Lieutenant General Ali Kuli Khan Khattak (Retired)
Command and Staff College Quetta has always been a very special place for me and as such, I was very excited when I took over as Commandant in January' 92. The staff course is an educative but gruelling experience and since it has a profound impact upon the students’ and the faculty's careers, each take their assignments very seriously which creates its own peculiar stresses and strains.
During its hundred year existence, C&SC has received and trained thousands of officers from all corners of the globe, many of whom earned fame for themselves and the College.
Since the personnel at C&SC can conveniently be divided into three communities i.e. the Students, Faculty and the Administrative Staff, I will dilate upon them in the same sequence!
Settling Down. Students congregate at the College from all parts of Pakistan and abroad and even though facilities available at the College are far better than elsewhere in Pakistan, yet the Students require help and support in the earlier part of the course; knowing this, I had, from the very outset, emphasized upon the Administrative and Directing Staff to take special interest and voluntarily go the “extra mile” to facilitate the students in this settling down. I had reason to believe this was done in the same spirit and with the care as I had desired.
‘Booty’. I had prior knowledge that students coming for the Course had a strong misconception that use of old solutions, popularly referred to as “Booty”, would help them to do well. Starting from my Opening Address, till the end of the Course, I repeatedly, tried to remove this false impression and emphasised the advantages of originality. I also informed them how easily the Faculty identified such culprits and accordingly warned them that transgressions would result in automatic and certain expulsion. I often wonder whether my pleadings and threats had any real effect. Since no case of unfair practices surfaced during my tenure, I revel in the belief that probably the message did get through!
Social Interaction. Wide variations of policy governing socialising amongst Students and Faculty had created unnecessary social strains within the C&SC community in general and the students in particular. Similarly, avoidable “walls” had been built within the Faculty also!! I tried to put relations on an even keel by allowing “reasonable” interaction but at the same time, kept an eagle eye against excesses. Similarly, I encouraged social interaction within the Faculty and the Commandant's House was accessible” to both the Students and the Faculty. These measures not only reduced the social strains but helped me understand, first hand, many issues which otherwise would have gone unnoticed. The Commandant's Wife, accompanied by Faculty wives, routinely visited Students families in hospitals so as to ensure that they were being treated properly.
Children’s Education. Some time after my taking over, it was brought to my notice that Iqra, the school for children's education at the C&SC, was not up to the mark; almost simultaneously, I learnt there was a well known Australian educationist in Quetta looking for a job. On receiving a positive response regarding the antecedents of this educationist, I then calculated what it would cost the C&SC to employ him as the Principal at Iqra. To cut a long story short, the additional cost boiled down to an additional Rupees 50 per child in their school fee. This was presented to the C&SC community and on receiving a go ahead from everyone, we employed this educationist at approximately five times the pay of the previous incumbent. What happened subsequently was nothing short of a miracle. Within on year, Iqra was widely acknowledged as the best school in Quetta and we could not cope with the demand for admissions! At this very juncture, I must acknowledge the untainted and generous financial support of the Chief Minister Balochistan, Mir Taj Mohammad Jamali and Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali, who were quick to grasp the potential of this venture and as a result, not only helped develop a quality school for Quetta, but created an example of civil military cooperation. The lesson which we at the C&SC learnt was, firstly, that one has to pay the price for acquiring good quality material and that it takes only one person, with ability and vision (like the educationist) to transform an average institution to one of excellence.
Allied Students from approximately 30 allied countries attend the Staff Course at the C&SC every year. They not only enrich the College with their varied experiences but also add a great deal of colour to its curricular and co-curricular activities.I tried to make their stay at Quetta rewarding in all respects and hope that in the process, created a whole new set of ambassadors for Pakistan.
Faculty & Administration Staff
Directing Staff (DS). Interaction with the DS’ was a most memorable experience at the C&SC. The faculty at the College is composed of the very best human material available in the Pakistan Army and it was a rare pleasure to work with them. On hearing of my posting as Commandant, a friend had quipped, “Be careful what you say to the Faculty; they are so keen that if you ever tasked them to move the Murdar Ghar, they would kill themselves trying”. I had, laughed it off as a light-hearted comment, but subsequently, when I worked with them, I realised that there was a ring of truth to it!! It is a fact, they are exceptionally able and any assigned task was completed with panache and a flair which was very rare and never experienced by me before. I also discovered that as a Commandant, I could approach the very highest authorities of Pakistan Army with the assurance that I would be heard patiently and evoke a positive response. The Military Secretary at GHQ was always accommodative and keen to give only the very bestto the C&SC. What else could anyone wish for!!
Syllabus. The syllabus at the C&SC has been evolved over generations and through the efforts of numerous capable and professional officers and as such, it is not possible or prudent to make drastic changes. Accordingly, I cannot lay claim to any major changes except that during my, stay we modified the Science Term Syllabus by focusing on computer literacy so as to be able to give “hands on” experience to the students. I am aware that subsequently, C&SC made great strides in this field but we are happy to claim that we also made a contribution.
Administration. Like the Faculty, the Administrative Staff also pride themselves in excelling in their respective fields. I was very lucky to have a Colonel General Staff who was not only bright and reliable but mature beyond his years. Apart from maintaining the usual high standards of administration, he also successfully completed a large number of projects, prominent among which were commissioning of the new DS Conference Room, Commandant's Office Enclave, Senior Instructors Offices Enclave, Senior Instructors’ Offices, Library and the Students’ Tea Bar. I once carried out an inspection of the College surroundings on horseback with the Administrative Staff in tow: it was a useful visit and as I was scheduling the next such visit, a visibly exhausted and nervous GSO-I interjected, “Sir, I will run with you on foot and not ride”, quite obviously, being on horseback had been an unpleasant experience!!
My stay at the C&SC was one of the most rewarding of my army career and I would not trade it off with anything else I have done. Unfortunately, on sudden passing away of the COAS, a lot of “movement” took place in the Army and I had to move to another assignment rather prematurely. All the same, I consider myself privileged in having been the helmsman at C&SC. It is a great institution to have been associated with and as the years roll by, it is a pleasure to meet students and colleagues and see them prosper in the profession.