Command and Staff College,
Quetta, Pakistan

Lieutenant General Syed Muhammad Amjad (Retired)

b1 I first set foot in the premises of the College in November 1973, visiting with my elder brother, Brigadier Muhammad Ahmed, who was then Chief Instructor. The old building had been pulled down and the new one was under construction. Little did I know that I was destined to spend more than a decade in that grand institution starting 1977 (as a student) and ending 1998 (as Commandant).

From student to DS (inclusive of a stint in the predecessor of FORADS, the Research Cell) to SI to OC Training Team to CI to Commandant was a long haul. When I got posted as Commandant, there was only one regret; at the end of that tenure there would be no further opportunity to get back to the College.

Every moment spent there taught me something new in the fields of hardcore profession, inter-personal relationships, community harmony etc. As a student I learnt the value of theory, reserving the right to apply (the learnt theory) as one deemed fit within the parameters of the principles learnt. I also learnt that in order to let my thought process work in a coherent manner and to allow my mind to grow professionally, I had to gather my own facts, carry out my own analysis, draw my own conclusions (followed by deductions-courses of action), design my options and then select one of them in order to come up with a detailed plan. There was no way of getting along in professional life using other's work (good or bad) as crutches. There is this terrific misperception amongst students about the infallibility of the 'DS Solution'-rubbish. Fortunately, I realised this as a student. 'DS Solution' is not really a solution; it is simply a set of pinks which provides guidelines to the DS on the basics. The so called 'solution' is only an illustrative tool. I really could write a book on what all I learnt as a student, but 'time and space' does not allow that.

Three months into being a DS, I was summoned by my SI and told that I was too harsh in assessing students written work. To this my response was that I was fair and objective. Even so, he asked me to be mindful. That evening I went back and pulled out my own written work which I had with me. (In our days as students, the corrected work was returned to us for good). One after another I went through my assignments and my initial conclusion was that with the kind of work I had produced, someone had made a terrible mistake in posting me as a DS. On deeper reflection it occurred to me that the 6 to 7 years experience gained between my time as a student and as a DS had improved my professional understanding and acumen and I was making the mistake of judging students by my current standards. A lesson was driven home early that served me well from there on.

And so it carried on in all spheres of activity at various levels. Of all the tasks performed there, I considered report writing as Chief Instructor, the most onerous. I had once asked my elder brother when he was CI as to what he did for a living (as CI) and his response was, “I earn my entire year's pay when I write the reports”. I remember having said ‘I see’ but really ‘saw’ when I had to write the reports myself. Many may think that the higher leadership of the Army is determined by the NDC, not quite so. It is the C&SC that, by and large, determines amongst other things, who goes to NDC.

The 'institutions' within the Institution played a very important role in my education about C&SC and hence in perspective refinement. The likes of Salamat and Azhar (God bless their souls), Fakira, Fazal Chacha (Mannan's father), Bashir (photographer) and so many more who now include a few from ETV (like Ejaz) were and are walking encyclopaedias and much can be learnt from them in informal chit chat.

Last but not the least, we found C&SC to be the best place a family could be in. Our younger son was 5 years old in 1983 and 12 by the time we came out in August 1990. In 1992 he moved to Karachi for his duties. When 1993 summer vacations approached, he was due to join us for two months. I got a call from him requesting permission to go to Quetta and stay in C&SC for a couple of weeks. That is what the College does to children. And there is so much for the ladies at all levels, from the student's wife to that of the Commandant’s. The extracurricular activities fully cater to the entire community and are numerous and varied. Given another chance, we (the whole family) would spend many more years there in any capacity.