My Great Teacher by Air Commodore Athar Mahmood Qureshi.

Assalaam alaikum Dear Friends and Family,

Our Dear DaddyJan, Janab AVM Muhammad Latif Tambra shaheed, took his last breath on 10th of Oct 2007/ 27th Ramadan 1428AH, at the age of 79 years. Allah Sub-Hanahu-Wa-Taala made him a beautiful person, gave him a beautiful life. And we are extremely thankful to Allah All-Mighty that He Sub-Hanahu-Wa-Taala gave us such a wonderful, honest, and upright father. May Allah Sub-Hanahu-Wa-Taala give him highest place in Jannat ul Firdaus. Aameen. It has been 9 years since he left us. But for us it is, as if, just a matter of yesterday. Everyday we pray for him. Every day we supplicate for him.

On this particular day we pray for him and remember him. Today I want to remember a wonderful time spent during my school days. Whenever we daughters had any difficulty in our studies we used to go to our Dear DaddyJan. He always gave us as much time as we needed in spite of our Dear DaddyJan’s sports routine in the afternoons. When I was in school, particularly in the subjects of Algebra and Physics, whenever I had any difficulty I also used to go to our Dear DaddyJan thinking it was a matter of just a few seconds and within seconds my problem would be solved and I would return back to my other routines. In my childish mind it used to be just a matter of putting a right formula and my difficulty would be over. But it was not so with our meticulous Dear DaddyJan. He would start by asking what the variables stand for? How this formula is made? What change would each variable bring, when each of the variables are changed one by one? And then I would be revising the whole last two or three chapters with our Dear DaddyJan there and then. And what was a matter of a few seconds in my childish mind would take an hour of rigorous revisions. All this our Dear DaddyJan used to do in an extremely composed manner, very softly and lovingly. Our Dear DaddyJan used to be so concerned about the basics of our education. All who spent time with him ever, respected him, loved him, and admired him… then, now, and always.

We knew our Dear DaddyJan had studied Physics, Mathematics and Algebra at university levels. So it was easy for us to comprehend that he could make these and related subjects easy for us because he had ample knowledge of them. But I was astonished, amazed and highly surprised to watch our beloved Dear DaddyJan explaining medical terms and making easy the medical language, when my sister had difficulty when she was studying medicine. I was really extremely impressed by our Dear DaddyJan at his capabilities of making studies easy when he was above 60 years of age in a subject he had never touched before, in his entire life.

One more thing I remember from our Dear DaddyJan’s school days. There was a neighbor and a friend of his who was two classes ahead of our Dear DaddyJan. Friend’s father and my respected grand father (our Dear DaddyJan’s father) were also friends. Whenever DaddyJan’s friend had a difficulty in any subject, he used to come to our Dear DaddyJan’s place. And our Dear DaddyJan would read his book. Do the exercises at the back of the chapter. And then used to explain them to his friend. I have yet to meet such a person in my life who could teach a person, two years ahead of his own class. A student is so busy with his own syllabus and school activities that he does not have any time, nor any energy to do anything more than his own studies. That also during exams or just before exams. That friend of our DaddyJan used to visit us during our DaddyJan’s life time. Our DaddyJan joined Pakistan Air Force, whereas his friend could not go beyond Matriculation and started doing his ancestral business of trading leather jackets to Europe from the Great Manufacturing City of Sialkot, Pakistan. Our Dear DaddyJan and his friend both did well in their lives, in their own circles. May Allah Sub-Hanahu-Wa-Taala accept our DaddyJan’s good deeds and Ehsaan he did to people in his life time, and enter him in Jannat ul Firdaus along with Good Doers and Muhsineens. Aameen.

A wonderful student of AVM Tambra shaheed, whose name is Air Commodore Athar Mahmood Qureshi, who later became his colleague as well. Air Commodore Athar remembers AVM Tambra shaheed in an article “My Great Teacher”, written by him. This article will be included in a book which Air Commodore Athar Mahmood Qureshi is still writing. My very dear husband, Group Captain Ishtiaq Ahmed, also read this interesting article and appreciated it.

I took permission to include this absorbing article in this post of mine, which he granted graciously.

We thank Athar bhai sahab for doing that. Every person is busy in his life. But those who take out time to write even a single word, what to talk of a whole article, must be appreciated tremendously. Hope you also enjoy reading it as we did.

With best wishes for you all,

May Allah keep us all safe, healthy and a good Muslim. Aameen.



My Great Teacher

AVM Muhammad Latif Tambra

By Air Commodore Athar Mahmood Qureshi.

When we joined Pakistan Air Force, College of Aeronautical Engineering in May 1966, then located in Korangi Creek, Karachi, this institution was then in its embryonic stage. Several members of the faculty members were still joining the college. Amongst them was then Squadron Leader Tambra, who had recently returned from AFIT, Air Force Institute of Technology, Ohio, USA, after obtaining his Master’s degree in Aerodynamics subject. He was to become part of the faculty of this newly created organization.

Squadron Leader Tambra had to postpone his Masters studies in USA, and had to come back to Pakistan because of some political changes in Pakistan. Afterwards he had to go back to USA in AFIT to complete his Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, which was completed in June 1970. Squadron Leader Mohammad Latif Tambra completed his Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering with Distinction, by which he made the name of his country, Pakistan, very Distinguished, very Glorious, and very Proud.

Although we were new in Air Force, even then he looked somewhat different from other officers of the PAF whom we had met thus far. He was quite informal in his mannerism and speech. That was rather unusual because so far we were being regimented and schooled in rigid discipline and conduct, especially during our earlier stay at Risalpur. We felt very comfortable in his presence because of his caring approach. He was a whiff of fresh air in that period of time.

AVM Tambra was an exceptionally talented and gifted teacher, who always carried the class with him. At no point we felt that he was breezing past without ensuring the whole class had assimilated the subject under discussion. This approach made him a very amiable teacher with all his students. His wit also helped a great deal in creating a congenial ambience in the class during those grueling lectures on Aerodynamics.

He was also a very devoted family man. On many afternoons and evenings we used to see him driving his huge Chevrolet Impala car, which was a very rare sight in those times. He usually used to be accompanied by his family. It was not easy for him to take time out of his very busy academic schedule, but he seemed to manage it very well.

My second association with him came when I was serving in a maintenance unit in Karachi, then called No. 102 Maintenance Unit. Over the years its’ name has changed many times, and I don’t know what it is called now. But anyway I am talking about the old times. Then Group Captain Tambra was heading this unit as its’ commanding officer. Here I learnt that he was not only an academician but equally a very real-world engineer as well. His knowledge about aircraft hardware and engineering processes was astonishing high. There are many interesting stories and anecdotes from this period. To narrate one, we were using a common adhesive in engine and aircraft maintenance called RTV. It had different types such as RTV110 and RTV 90 etc. etc., depending on the type of surface and temperature environment. Once my commanding officer Group Captain Tambra asked me “Do you know what is meant by RTV”? Frankly, I had never thought about it but on the spur of the moment I replied that it must be trade name used by the manufacturer. He smiled and said, “No. It means Room Temperature Vulcanizer”. This is just one example. But there were scores of such instances when he surprised me with tremendous knowledge and equally sharp memory. Each episode like this enhanced his respect in my eyes many fold.

While in 102 MU, I was heading Aircraft Engineering Squadron. Often, he would come to my squadron to discuss some ongoing technical issue. During the discussions if he needed to examine something closely, he would not mind climbing the ladder or sitting on the concrete floor underneath the aircraft without the slightest hesitation. For him the problem on hand was more important than any other consideration.

During the discussions, if an NCO tried showing off his knowledge without substance, he would stop him in his track immediately, correcting his erroneous discourse. The discussion would often end up with him saying, “What are you trying to show me, I have taught your officer in charge for four years”. We were always his students and he was always our teacher. That was such a strong bond which persists throughout our lives.

Like any great man he never boasted about his extensive knowledge but rather displayed humility and behaved in a very down to earth manner. It was yet another sterling quality which endeared him to everyone around him. Once I went to his office and found him in a very jubilant mood. He said, “You have just come at the right moment. I wanted to discuss something very important with you”. Then he showed me a technical study, conducted by an officer of the unit, and Group Captain Tambra felt very excited about it. I scanned through the report and felt as if somebody had punched me in the stomach. Having worked a long time in the engine overhaul system, I had some insightful knowledge which was naturally not available to those who did not have that opportunity. I found that while the officer had made an honest effort, he had totally missed something very critical and vital in his report. After studying the report rather quickly, I sat silently brooding on how to broach this subject with my benevolent Officer Commanding and dampen his euphoric mood.

But loyalty demanded that I gave him the true picture. Group Captain Tambra was looking expectantly at me waiting for my reaction. Finally he said, “What is the matter. You don’t seem to be pleased about it”. I had no option but to narrate my views slowly and gradually. He listened patiently, all air of exuberance melting away. Finally he sighed and said, “I guess you are right. There is no way to go ahead with this project”. Had there been another officer in his place, I think he would have tried to coerce me into agreeing to his scheme, but not Group Captain Tambra. He would never do such a thing. While still sitting there in a gloomy mood, he received a telephone call. I heard him say, “No, I am not fine. You see I had this big thing coming, but Athar has just put a big spanner in it ………….” Although he was somewhat upset, but when I was leaving his office he thanked me for giving my views honestly and without any hesitation.

Some years later, I again met him in Paris, where he was posted as Technical Attaché. I was in France attending a course on Atar Engine overhaul. He was, as usual, very helpful in every matter and we faced no obstacles during our stay there. He was the same considerate teacher that I knew for such a long time.

After his retirement, he was working in a construction company by the name of Jason Construction Company Pvt. Ltd. On 10th October, 2007 when AVM Latif Tambra reached his office at 11:00 in Clifton and as he came out of his car, he was shot at close range by the killer, who was hiding nearby. He was grievously injured and pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. In the meantime, the assailant escaped on motor bike but remains at large to this day. Ina Lilahe Wa Inna Alehe Rajaoon. When I came to know about this terrible news I was numb with shock and grief. It was very hard for me to understand how such a noble person like my great teacher could be targeted like this. I miss my great teacher so much and always pray ALLAH ALMIGHTY may shower his blessings upon the departed soul. Aameen.



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