“My ISSB Photo”

Being compiled by Lt Col (R) Rashid Zia Cheema (2nd SSC)

Editor’s Note: This Post is under compilation. Retired officers are requested to send their ISSB photos (showing Chest Number) to the Editor at: nativepakistan@gmail.com

In Pakistan ISSB is performing the important role of selecting future leadership for defence forces of Pakistan. In order to determine suitability for commission in Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force, tests and interviews of candidates are held for four days at ISSB Kohat / Gujranwala / Malir / Quetta Cantonments.

The present selection system for defence forces of Pakistan owes its origin to World War II. Before World War II the selection of officers in the British Army was based on recommendations from Commanding Officers, interviews and written examination. During World War II, in 1942, War Office Selection Board was established. These selection boards composed of a president, psychologist and a military testing officer. The board conducted two to three days examinations and only selected the best suitable candidates.

In February 1943, the British established first such board in India after bringing some changes according to local environment. At the time of Partition two such boards came to the share of Pakistan and started functioning at Rawalpindi. In 1952, the two boards were amalgamated into what we now call as Inter Services Selection Board, commonly known as ISSB and it was established at Kohat. Later with the increase in induction in Pakistan defence forces, two ISSB detachments were opened in Gujranwala and Malir in 1984 and 1987 respectively. To encourage candidates appearing from Balochistan a mobile detachment was also established for Quetta in 1999.

Lt Col Rashid Zia Cheema, PA-14563 - ISSB Kohat Photo with Chest Number

Lt Col Farooque Akhtar, PA-14631 - ISSB Kohat Photo with Chest Number

Maj Fida Muhammad, PSS-14711 - ISSB Kohat Photo with Chest Number

 Maj Gen Waqar Ahmad Kingravi (PA-16248) - ISSB Kohat Photo with Chest Number

I went to ISSB Kohat, soon after my FSc exams somewhere in mid 1972, I do not remember the dates. I found it to be a thrilling experience where you made new friends. In my batch there were a few whom I distinctly remember and others who have faded away in my memory.
We underwent written tests, group discussions, psychological evaluations and individual as well as group activities involving problem solving, physical fitness, etc. It was really an all-encompassing experience, which left me much wiser and confident. One of my group mates was Ayyaz Saleem Rana, who eventually won the coveted Sword of Honour from our course, the 50th Long Course. He was extremely fit and confident at that time too and we could see him tossing away heavy logs and drums to solve the group tasks.
The final day is the zenith of expectations as you see everyone anxiously awaiting the results. Some of the dejected ones who are not selected, console themselves by saying,’ I was not selected being over intelligent for the Armed Forces’.
Waqar Ahmad Kingravi

Related Pages:
Chief of Army Staff Cane Winners, PMA, Kakul, Abbotabad
Pakistan Army Cadets Trained at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK
Army Blog (Retired Officers)

Editor’s Note: 
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Retired officers may also send their ISSB photo (showing Chest Number) to the Editor at: nativepakistan@gmail.com


  1. Kudos to you Rashid dear. Inadvertently perhaps, you are also affording us a refresher training in real short story and analytical writing. God speed and warm regards.

  2. Retired officers are requested to send their ISSB photo (showing Chest Number) to the Editor at: nativepakistan@gmail.com

  3. Maj Aziz-ur-Rehman, Retd (15th War Course) says:

    It was dispersal stage for the candidates to return to their respective homes, after having received the final result of ISSB tests. Of the three left over successful candidates in the room, preparing to pack up and leave, two were serving airmen from PAF. One, named Sanawwar was telling the other (airman) candidate, named Muhammad Mekaal in a very exciting tone, his voice quivering with emotions, “Ajj Munn gae aa’n kay fauj wich safarish nai’n chaldi,” meaning that at last he had come face to face to the reality that favouratism and nepotism does not work in selection process for commission in the army.
    Sanawwar further said that while he was leaving home for ISSB Kohat, his mother said in a dejected tone that without any reference who was going to select him because without SIFARISH nothing happens in their society. Later, Sanawwar became a senior appointment holder cadet in PMA and Mekaal, a junior appointment holder.
    What I want to highlight by quoting this factual example is that many a candidates from not so well-to-do families or from modest background, but with high average intellect and motivation to serve the country, are selected for granting commission in the armed forces of Pakistan, though they have no linkages or references.
    In the end kudos to Lt Col Rashid Zia Cheema (Editor) for tracing the history of Services Selection Board. He has the knack for digging out information even if it is wrapped in several layers and covered with dust.

  4. Col Asif Rathore, Ord (39 PMA) says:

    Cheema Sahib,
    Full marks for your enthusiasm and spirited effort, Masha Allah.
    Stay Blessed.

  5. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Dear Cheema,
    Well done. The gigantic task which you have undertaken is great for which we all are grateful and thankful. You are always bringing out new topics which is highly commendable. Had you used your head in this manner in Army days I am sure you would have received many COAS commendation and appreciation cards.
    Col Farooque Akhtar is a very nice guy. We were together in Sialkot Cantt where we first met in a cricket match in 1970-71 before the ISSB, later we served together in Ack Ack school. He was also my instructor in Drone Course. Excellent person and friend.

  6. Brig (R) Anwar Khan (16 War Course) says:

    Thank you Col Rashid Zia Cheema for continuing the good work even after retirement from the Army. A great patriot that you are, your innovative mind always is all the time on the look for novel and untouched topics. Keep doing as this is going to be a great legacy for all times to come.

    • Umar Saleem says:

      Sir, What is a war course? What type of commission is this?

      • Editor says:

        War Course is not a Course for granting commission to cadets. It is a 44 weeks course run at Armed Forces War College in Islamabad, attended by selected officers from Army (Lt Cols and Brigs), Navy & Air Force. It is also attended by officers from Civil Services and officers from friendly countries.
        This course grooms selected officers as leaders capable of understanding National Security and role of Armed Forces at the military strategic and operational strategic level.
        The successful candidates are awarded MSc degree.

  7. Maj Gen (R) Waqar Ahmad Kingravi, Avn (50 PMA) says:

    Well done Col Cheema. You are doing a great job. Please keep it up.
    I agree with Maj Shabbir in saying that there should be a provision for writing a brief para on ISSB experience along with each photo.

  8. Col (R) Shahid Kureshi, AC/Avn (46 PMA) says:

    Cheema Ji,
    What will you think of next? Commendable effort both on your part and on ours to dig up an appropriate photo.
    Well done.

  9. Brig (R) Shaukat Qadir (42nd PMA) says:

    Well done, Rashid. Keep it up.
    Fond regards.

  10. Col (R) Shah Alam, Avn (34 PMA) says:

    Kudos for your initiatives and good work. May Allah continue to bless you with the energy to achieve your goals. Amen.

  11. Major (Retd) Tariq Javaid Haider, Air Def (46 PMA) says:

    Appreciate your effort in highlighting and compiling data of the retirees from the forces.
    My sincere compliments and hope more of us join and help him in his effort.

  12. Lt Col (R) Khalid Hasan Butt, Avn (44 PMA) says:

    Col Cheema is doing a great service to the veterans by writing on different defence and Pakistan related interesting subjects. The real appreciation was from veterans living abroad. I WISH HIM GOD SPEED.

  13. Lt Col (Retd) Irshad Ahmed, Sigs says:

    Col Cheema is doing a great job by compiling interesting and important aspect of history of our age. It not only satisfy our nostalgic feelings but also serves as a Data Bank for the future generations in this field. He is versatile and possesses a subtle sense of humor. His collection of some incidents of “Humor in Uniform” is also of great value to keep the morale high.

    Display of ISSB Chest No. pics (50 years old in my case) is a wonderful idea. I remember that I even got it enlarged for drawing room display but is not readily available as it is in the stuff stored in Pakistan but I hope to find it out soon. In’sha’Allah

  14. Lt Col (R) Rashid Zia Cheema, the editor of Native Pakistan, has started compilation of a new Post, titled “My ISSB Photo”. This would be another interesting addition to the existing, very useful, pages/posts. Efforts by Lt Col Cheema to seek, compile and share experiences of veterans must be recognized, appreciated, commended and thanked. The stay at the ISSB, though confusing, confounding, short and hectic, is, for most of candidates, the first exposure to a regimented way of life.
    The ISSB experience leaves some long lasting and fond memories and quite often humorous anecdotes. I would request and suggest to Lt Col Cheema to ask for and include ISSB memories and experiences of veterans in this Post.

  15. Maj (R) Mumtaz Bashir Waraich says:

    ISSB chest No. 163 seems to be an intelligent, bright young man coming from the ‘martial race’ should have had no problem in being selected for the Army.

  16. Lt Gen (R) Israr Ghumman, AC says:

    Col Rashid Zia Cheema has an innovative mind. He is involved in compiling historical facts of our Armed Forces. The data being compiled by him with great efforts, one day, will form back bone of any research work in compiling the History and development of our armed forces. He has already worked a great deal in compiling the list and brief data of winners of Sword of Honours from PMA. My sincere compliments to Col Cheema for undertaking this gigantic effort.

  17. Lt Col (R) Zafar Kayani, AC (47th PMA) says:

    ISSB Candidate, Chest No. 115 , Farooque Akhtar was a easy going cool guy right from his childhood.

    • Lt Gen (R) Israr Ghumman, AC says:

      Chest No 115, Farooque Akhtar, was with us in Central Model School, Lahore. The Modelians are generally cool and easy going, sir Zafar Kayani.

      • Lt Col (R) Farooque Akhtar says:

        Sir, Israr Ghumman,
        Thanks for the compliments. I am amazed on your memory that after half a century you could recollect your school mate. Thank you, sir.

    • Lt Col Farooque Akhtar says:

      Sir, Zafar Kayani,
      Thanks for the compliment.

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