Prof. Syed Maqsood Ali
Professor of English (1962-1969)

Prof. Syed Maqsood Ali – 1962

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif


Prof. Syed Maqsood Ali joined Cadet College Petaro in 1962 to teach English and left in 1969.

Maqsood Sahib was born around the year 1900 but he never knew the actual date. He used to tell his children that he was born after the death of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (died March 1898).

His first wife was the late Mrs. Fehmida. They were married in the year 1927, and she bore him six children – Zohra, Surayya, Sohaila, Asad, Sajida, Saleha. Mrs. Fehmida died around the year 1980.

Later on, he married Mrs. Alia Khanum (an Afghani lady) in 1949 who bore him 3 children – Syed Iqbal Ali (686/Liaquat), Rehana (wife of Mr. R.S. Channa) and Furqana.

Maqsood Sahib expired in Karachi on 21 June 1986 of sugar and old age problems. His widow Mrs. Alia Khanum now lives in Mississauga, ON, Canada.

I would like to share with you a few details about our dear late teacher , who used to teach us English back in the 1960s. In fact, he was past his retirement age even then, but he kept himself active.

Maqsood Sahib got his M.A. in English, Political Science and General History from Aligarh Muslim University in 1927. His room mate at Aligarh was President Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan.

After passing out from Aligargh, Maqsood Sahib chose the field of education as his career. He worked in different schools far and wide. He was posted to Afghanistan and the northern areas and is well remembered by old timers there.

At the time of Independence of Pakistan in 1947, he was still in Afghanistan. Since his career was with the Education Department of the Govt of India, everyone suggested that he should go back to India. After considerable thought, he decided to opt for Pakistan and moved to the NWFP area. He loved to work in remote and small towns like Mardan, Hangu in addition to Peshawar.

During this period, he took his second wife as well from Afghanistan in 1949, namely Mrs. Alia Khanum (who was an Afghani).

Shortly after Ayub Khan became President of Pakistan, Maqsood Sahib was at his retirement age. Ayub did not forget his old friend and room mate and wanted to see him well settled in life after his retirement.  So he offered to give an industrial license to Masqood Sahib to set up a factory for automotive industry. This did not go down well with Maqsood Sahib. He had been a teacher all his life and could not imagine being anything else.  Some friends suggested that he take the license and sell it to any industrialist, which would give him enough money to have a decent life. This was unacceptable ethically to this great man. So he declined. Instead, he asked President Ayub to get him another job as a teacher.

Maqsood Sahib had also been the teacher of our Vice Principal Mr. S.S. Azim(who later on became the 3rd Principal of Petaro after our departure).  So we had the honour of having been taught both by Maqsood Sahib and Azim Sahib.

In the meantime, Mr. S.S. Azim’s first wife expired in 1962 and Maqsood Sahib went to Petaro to condole him. That was when he met Col. Coombes, who was impressed by the depth of experience that he brought. In addition, President Ayub also put in his recommendation to Col. Coombes. Maqsood Sahib thus joined Cadet College Petaro when he was already past his retirement age.

When Cdr. Firoz Shah became the Principal, Maqsood Sahib could not get along well with him. However, it was the reverence of Azim Sahib and friendship with President Ayub Khan that he continued to work there for so long. But when the uprising against the President was at its height in 1969 all over Pakistan, Maqsood Sahib chose to call it a day, and left Petaro at the beginning of 1969.

Around June or July 2007, I received a call from out of the blue from a lady who lives in Hyderabad and who identified herself as Mrs. Rehana Channa, the second wife of our teacher Mr. R.S. Channa. Mrs. Rehana Channa told me that she also happens to be the daughter of (the late) Syed Maqsood Ali Sahib. (may Allah grant him jannat).

She had attended the Golden Jubilee celebrations at CCP in Feb 2007, and had poured over the Golden Jubilee books. Those had brought back old memories. She had been overwhelmed by the old memories of Petaro during the celebrations and as described in the Golden Jubilee publications and she wanted to share some of the reminiscences with me. I was able to get a lot of information about her father from here.

Masqood Sahib was short and used to wear very thick eyeglasses. He could barely figure out who was who.

He was also an incredibly loving teacher and used to entertain us by telling us some stories which none of us believed. He would love to talk about “shikar” and we all came to know about the famous (Irish born) British hunter Jim Corbett who wrote many books on how he killed so many man-eating tigers and cheetahs at the jungles of Naini Tal and Kumaon in India. Jim Corbett was a legend in that regard. I remember reading almost all of his books while I was at Petaro.

Maqsood Sahib’s most famous story (which every cadet of the 1960s remembers) is how he apparently was a better hunter in comparison to Jim Corbett. He would tell us the famous story of how he shot 2 tigers with one bullet. In the thick of the jungle, he was trapped between these 2 tigers with only one bullet in his rifle. It was the quick thinking on his part that allowed him to kill both of them with that one bullet. What he did was that he pulled out his knife from his belt and held its sharp edge in front of the barrel and shot the rifle. The bullet split in two, and that did the trick. Plus you must remember that the angle of the rifle and the knife was so accurate that the two parts flew in different directions to kill both the animals. (Sultan Rahi must have heard Maqsood Sahib’s story too).

It was his great marksmanship that allowed us to be his students, otherwise he would have been feasted by the 2 tigers many years ago.

We all used to laugh at the story, because Maqsood Sahib could barely see beyond his nose with his thick eyeglasses.  He also knew that none of us believed the story, and we all used to enjoy it.

I got another call on 28 June 2008. This time it was from Maqsood Sahib’s younger daughter Furqana who lives in Karachi. She called to tell me that Mrs. Maqsood Ali wants to talk to me, and requested me to call her. She gave me her home tel number in Canada. Furqana told me that she is in close contact with Zuberi Sahib’s daughter and with Feroz Yusuf Khan Sahib family as well.

I indeed felt honoured that Mrs. Maqsood Ali had expressed a desire to speak to me. So I immediately called the no. and spoke to her. She was extremely happy that I had called as it reminded her of the good old days at Petaro. What I hadn’t expected was that she has a very heavy Afghani accent. Maqsood Sahib was from the UP, and it had not struck me that after so many years of marriage, she would still have such a heavy accent.

While talking, she made a request me to remind all Petarians that two of her grand daughters (daughters of Rehana and Furqana) are of marriageable age, and she would like to see them married to Petarians. Her husband was a Petarian teacher, her son is a Petarian and one daughter is married to a Petarian teacher. She would like the Petarian connection to go on to the third generation too.

Mrs. Maqsood Ali’s telephone no. in Canada is (905) 712-9940 (same no. as her son Iqbal kit no. 686).

Maqsood Sahib died in 1986 in his very old age at Karachi and is buried there.May Allah grant him the choicest place in jannatul firdaus, and may his progeny continue to be in the Petarian tradition.

Prof. Syed Maqsood Ali flanked by Prof. Ch. Saeed Ahmed and Prof. SS Azim – 1962

Prof. Ahad Khan, Prof. Zaman, Prof. Syed Maqsood Ali and Mr. Talpur – March 1969