Lieutenant General Muhammad Iqbal (Retired)
As a student, Directing Staff, Chief Instructor and finally the Commandant, I saw the College pass through many phases of progress and development. I record a distinct feeling of satisfaction for achievements in different fields. My stay at the College as the Commandant has been as busy as was of my predecessors. In retrospect, I would like to call it ‘a period of further consolidation’, which is the hallmark of such an apex institution. I was a DS at the College from 1969-1971; at that time there were two separate entities, the Staff and the War Wing.
There was very little association between the two, obviously due to the level of studies that were conducted. One through that War Wing was located here as a matter of convenience, probably there was no other place. A very wise decision was taken to eventually take it to Rawalpindi and now to Islamabad. Frankly speaking we as students or DS had very little association with the War Wing. You know that life in the Staff College is pretty busy and in the Staff Wing you have enough on your hands, let alone being able to see around and associate. However I do not think the War Wing had any bearing on the Staff Wing’s instructions and except for short common interludes when we joined in to listen to eminent guest speaker, even though he may have been primarily meant for the War Wing. Beyond that, there was hardly any association with the War Wing. I do not think Staff College missed anything due to the War Wing shifting away. I think it was a good thing that happened.
The other issue was the bringing down of the old building. I worked as a student in the old building in 1965 and then as DS in 1969 and 1970. There was a strong controversy whether to bring down the old building or not and there were an equal number of people for and against. Indeed for those people who did not want to see the old building disappear, I think it was quite emotional. Naturally, now looking back, the old building could not have accommodated all that you have now. It would have gone sooner or later. But I remember, there was a short and impressive ceremony that took place and General Azmat Bakhsh Awan, the then Commandant pulled out a brick from the tower and that was the beginning of bringing down the building. Then of course it was a big structure and it took many years to construct. In the meantime we were working in makeshift arrangements in the huts behind the Officers Mess. The offices shifted to what is now the bachelor's accommodation in the mess. We went on for many years until the new building came up.
The other events were the change of the College emblem and renaming of the magazine. These issues were considered at length. The changes were finally brought about in the design of the emblem and the title of the magazine with the approval of General Zia ul Haq. An era came to an end on 4 July as we finally bade farewell to the Owl, after 74 years of its academic reign. The Owl had been replaced by the word Iqra symbolising the first Command of the Almighty to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and through him to all believers. The College is proud that a member of the Faculty, Lieutenant Colonel Anwar Munir ud Din, the Punjab Regiment, had the privilege of designing the new crest. The change of name of the College magazine from "The Owl" to "The Review" was a complete break with the cherished traditions of the past. The name of the magazine was changed after about 55 years.
The syllabus at the Staff College has been, by and large, on the same basic pattern for decades. Though necessary modifications are made keeping in view the needs of time, yet it is essential that the syllabus of the College is re-modelled to fulfil the present time requirements. To bring change in the curriculum, the elective subjects were introduced to widen the professional horizon of our officers. Towards the end of the fourth term of the Staff Course tri-services exercise (TRI BRACHIAL) with Naval and Air Staff College was introduced for the first time, which is now a routine training activity.
There was a long outstanding need to preserve and display items of interest and historical value pertaining to the College. Though the idea of establishment of the Museum was floated in 1976, it came into existence in 1979. The Museum of the Command and Staff College was formally inaugurated by the President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia ul Haq on 16 May 1979. The Museum has been housed in the building popularly known as Monty's House (Colonel B L Montgomery later the Field Marshal). The Museum contains glimpses of the hundred year heritage and history of the College which include portraits, uniforms, albums and medals of former staff and students.
It is a part of a tradition of the College that when the distinguished graduates come to the College they also meet the Commandant. During my stay at the College as the Commandant, we received General Walter Walker, an ex student and DS and brought him from the airport to the College guest room. He was told to retire to his room for some time before he could be taken to College building for a visit. No sooner Ihad reached my office that I received a frantic call from my GSO-1 informing me that General Walter Walker was missing from his room. Now, I was startled as he was a personal guest of Chief of the Army Staff and we had specific instructions for his security. My consternation was mercifully short-lived as I received a call after twenty minutes that the General was back in his room. When I received the General in my office I enquired about his little escapade. He told me that he had gone towards “Bilgrami Lines” where, as a DS, he had stayed with his wife in 1920s and she was no more in this World. He then reminisced about a very interesting event. He had joined Staff College in 1920s as a newly posted DS and it was customary in those days for a new DS to give an inaugural talk on the very first day of arrival along with a presentation of a shield/memento to the College. He said his wife was a very accomplished artist in woodwork and together they decided to present a woodwork shield bearing the crest of his beloved Gorkha Regiment that he belonged to. Hence, they went harum-scarum to the local bazaar to buy some wood and other stuff to make a wood work shield. Both husband and wife worked all night long in a labour of love to prepare an exquisite wooden shield bearing Gorkha Regiment's crest. The next day the General presented the shield to the College after his inaugural talk. He rued the fact that he had failed to inscribe his name or initials on the shield.
As I perceived the depth of the General's feelings for this institution, I resolved to leave no stone unturned to discover that shield. I ordered a search and to our delight it was found, albeit dumped and in a dilapidated state. I immediately called my-best carpenter and told him to make a replica of the old shield and deliver it to me at 0730 am sharp on Monday. We only had a day in between as it was Saturday and the General had to leave on Monday. Monday came and the General entered my office for a farewell visit. After exchanging pleasantries I offered to show him something special. I had those two shields on my desk covered with a cloth. As I uncovered the cloth the General went in a trance. He stayed in that motionless state for about 30 seconds and then regained his composure. He thanked me profusely for this kind gesture with tears streaking down his rubicund cheeks, he said he was simply stupefied as to how the College had kept his gift for over 50 years. I said that we would retain the original shield and present the replica to him. The General left and I forgot about the whole thing. At night, as I was about to retire, I got a telephone call from General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. He asked me as to what I had done to General Walter Walker. I replied with a little trepidation that I thought he had left very happy from the College. “Happy”, retorted Zia, “You seem to have cast a spell on him. He can't seem to talk of anything else but the Command and Staff College”. I said ,“Sir it is not me but the College that has cast a spell on him”.