The Petarian Mag - Petarian Principal    


_____My Father, a Petarian Principal

I was asked by a very senior Petarian Dr Nadeem Zaigham, to write about my father, Commodore Muhammad Abid Saleem SI(M) ONM(Fr), focusing on his achievements and personality. At first, I thought it would be very easy, but now that I have sat down to write it does not appear to be so. There is so much I would like to share with the Petarian Community but I don’t think I’ll be able to condense all my thoughts into a few pages. But I will try my best.                                      Author/Son

Since my birth in March of 1981, I have a pretty good track record of my father’s postings, his friends, his achievements, good and bad times. Now that I have to write about him, I’ll be very honest, there is very little that I know about him before his marriage. Anyways, I will try to write as honestly as possible.


My father was born on the 11th of May, 1951, somewhere in District Sargodah, to Chaudhry Noor M Khan Saleem (late) and Naimat Begum. He was the third of six siblings. He completed his early education in Faisalabad, that’s where he originally hailed from. In my conversations with my father, I know for a fact that he had always been interested in joining the Army. I asked him once, as to how he ended up going to Petaro. He told me that someone from his village, Jehangir Kallan, showed him an add in the newspaper about interviews being held in Lahore for new entry in Cadet College Petaro. It was my father’s understanding at the time that if he got admission into Petaro, he will automatically be granted commission in the Army as an officer.


It was only after reaching Petaro that he found out that Petaro produces good citizens and that’s it. With this misconception in his mind, he asked his father if he could go to Lahore and give the interviews. My grandfather initially said ‘no’, pending to the fact that Petaro was so far away from Faisalabad. But after my father’s repeated requests, my grandfather agreed. He also said to my grandmother that “He’s just a kid who wants to go to Lahore……let him go………. its not that he’s going get admission anyways………he’ll be back in a few days”. Well, by now you all must be well aware of the results of the examination!


 My father joined Cadet College Petaro in 1964. This is the part of his life that he calls the ‘Golden Years’. Whenever, he achieved something, he would always tell me that this would not have been possible had he not been to Petaro. I have heard fairy tale like stories about his five year stay in Petaro. Some from him, while others I found out after becoming a cadet, myself.


I was growing up he used to talk a lot about his friends from Petaro, specially his roommates.He has always been very close to Dr Kamal Qureshi. Then there was always TJ Uncle (Captain T J Siddiqui), he always talked very highly of Brig Mukhtar and Brig Khalid Zaman. He used to talk about his entry mate ‘Munib’, who achieved ‘Shahadat’ in 1971. I remember that, one of the first things he did after becoming Commandant CCP was that he had his friend Munib’s name engraved on the plank reserved for ‘Shuhada’. My father used to tell me stories of his friend “Tarzan”, and as to how the goalkeeper used to be scared of him and the fact that he could tear the net with one kick. Most of you, specially the class of 64, are better aware of my father’s time in Cadet College Petaro than I am. But I will highlight a few achievements of his at Petaro.


He had always been very good in athletics and specially football. He joined the football team in 9th class, if I am not wrong, and was eventually captain. He was given badge of honor in 10th class and at the end of his stay in Petaro he was Junior Under Officer of Latif Division. After joining Petaro, I cannot explain on paper the honor and respect I felt when I saw his name all over Quaid Hall. One has to really look up at the wall to read his name.

After passing out of Petaro, my father applied for commission and after listening to the advice of one of my grandfather’s friend, he opted to join Pakistan Navy. I have always known my father to love the Navy. He is very passionate about the service. His career in the Navy has taken him across the globe and also to the remotest regions of Pakistan. My father got to see action on board PNS Babur, soon after getting commission in 1971. Had the partition, not taken place, he was next in line to be posted to Chittagong. That never realized. Afterwards, there is a string of postings on board destroyers, frigates and the famous Tug of Pakistan Navy, PNS Madadgar. It was on board Madadgar that he got to sail from Shanghai, China to Toulon, France. He used to tell me stories about his sea experiences. Never did I hear one bad word from him about the Navy. I had heard from other people that sea life gets very monotonous but my dad never even said that to me. He truly loves the white uniform and as far as I know him, he will never take it off until the Navy tells him “goodbye”.

My father was one of the lucky ones in the Navy. He got to go on several cruises while on board vessels. He did his PWO course in 1978 from UK. In 1985 he proceeded to USA for an Intelligence Course. In 1988 he again proceeded to UK, this time for his Staff Course, after topping in his class. In 1993, he proceeded to UK, a third time, for the acquisition of PNS Babur as captain. In 1997, he was appointed as Army and Naval Attaché in Paris, France. It is ironic that he was promoted to “Commander”, in 1988 when was in UK doing his staff course. He was promoted to “Captain”, when he was in UK for acquisition of PNS Babur and he was promoted to “Commodore” in 2000, when he was Army and Naval Attaché in Paris. I personally believe that it was his sheer hard work, dedication to duty and blessings of All Mighty Allah that he got to proceed abroad so many times.
My father did three tenures of the Naval Headquarters in Islamabad. He was first posted there as a Lt Cdr in the Protocol Department, then as Commander he was appointed as Assistant Director Naval Intelligence and as Captain he was appointed Director Projects Ships. His on sea commands include that of a submarine chaser PNS Baluchistan, a frigate PNS Aslat and a destroyer PNS Babur. While commanding Baluchistan and Aslat, his ships won the Annual Fleet Efficiency awards. Whereas on Babur, he finished second after a nail biting and thrilling competition.

After finishing his tenure as Army and Naval Attaché in Paris France he proceeded to command his Alma Matter, Cadet College Petaro in October of 2000. It is my opinion that one has to be extremely lucky to command an institution that has given so much to you. My father owes everything he has to Petaro and he has never hesitated in telling us that. His performance in Petaro as Commandant and Principal speaks for itself. I could never figure out that which one does he love more…….the Navy or Petaro?

In recognition of my father’s services he has been awarded Siatra-e-Imtiaz (Military) by the President of Pakistan. He also has the distinct honor of being awarded “Order National du Merit of France” by the French President in recognition of his services as Army and Naval Attaché in Paris, France.

Besides his professional life, I have always found him to be very kind, gentle and a very simple and down-to-earth person. He is a very caring and a loving husband to my mom, Rahila, and a great father to me, my brother Mughees and sister Merium. I have always looked up to him for advice, sometimes by asking and most of the times by just simply observing him. I can go on and on about my father’s personality in the house but I think that most fathers are alike. They all try to raise there family in the best possible way they can. They get there kids to go to the best schools and give them everything they ask for. My father was no different.

Sometime ago I was had to go for a job interview. The interviewer asked me “Who do I look up to in life?” I said, without a moment’s hesitation “My Father”. She asked me again “Anybody besides him?” I said “No, just him”.

                                    ____Petarian Rana Mohammad Haseeb Abid