“Remembering Brig Naseeruddin Humayun, the Lonely Man at Damloti”

By Lt Col Wajahatullah Khan Lodi (R), Engrs (2nd OTS Course)

Lt Col Wajahatullah Khan Lodi (R), Engrs (2nd OTS Course)Editor’s Note: Lt Col Wajahatullah Khan Lodi was born at Radhanpur, Gujarat (India) in 1925. He was  commissioned in 91 Fd Coy RPE (Royal Pakistan Engineers) in 1950 and later raised 13 Engr Bn. He retired in 1975 and settled in Karachi. He is presently living with his son in California, USA.

I came in close touch with Brig Humayun too late in life, that was in 2003. He was an icon of the Corps of Engrs. I still vividly remember when I first saw him as a Lt Col, dressed up in SD (Service Dress). It was in 1950 when I was attending Field Engineering Course at School of Military Engineering Sialkot (Immediately after Partition, Engineer Centre and SME were located at Sialkot. For security reasons these were moved to Risalpur in 1952). I was not only impressed by his personality but also overawed. He must have been not more than 32 /33 years in age. The occasion was a Swimming Gala and a large number of senior and junior officers had assembled but Naseeruddin Humayun’s was an outstanding personality. As subalterns, we the newly commissioned lot, were taken in grip of fear even if we saw a major, a “Field Officer”, around. A Lt Col was even more ferocious than many seniors of today. Thereafter, as far as I was concerned Col Humayun was only seen or heard occasionally.

Brig Naseeruddin Humayun, The Bridgehead Farms, Damloti, near Malir Cantt, Karachi

In 1957, I was posted as AGE Peshawar where there was an acute shortage of family accommodation and I had to leave my folks back at Kohat. No one really bothered about my plight and I had to visit Kohat every weekend to make sure that my wife and kids were safe and living in comfort. One day the news came that the civilian CMES was posted out and Col Humayun would be taking over the charge, which he did within a couple of weeks. The entire set up was in jitters and the environment changed from a lousy one to one full of activity. One of my SDOs had shown me a deserted house, saying that if I can get a minor work for Rs. 1,000 approved, the house can be made habitable. But then it was beyond expecting that the civilian CMES would approve one. On change of command I decided to try my luck and sought permission to see the CMES. The next day I entered Col Humayun’s office and gave a smart salute standing to attention. He gave me a cold look and asked about the problem I had. Very briefly I informed him about the situation I was in.

He asked, “What do you want me to do?”

I told him, “Sir, I have seen a house that is in a haunting condition but if a minor work for Rs. 1,000 is approved by you, I shall be able to shift my family from Kohat and have peace of mind”.

He said, ” OK, let us go and have a look at the house”.

He took a round of the house and on return to office he asked for the work proforma, signed it and said, “Let me know if there is any problem”.

I felt gleefully happy, wondering how it all happened. The house was ready for occupation in about ten days time. It was March 1957. Thereafter hum sub hassi khushi rehnay lagay.!!! For reasons unknown, Col Humayun was posted back to GHQ after a few months and in July the same year (1950) I had taken over the command of a Filed Company at Peshawar, on being promoted to the rank of Maj. In November I had to proceed on long leave due to unavoidable reasons and in my absence I needed a good 2 I/C to look after the Company. To ensure things I went to GHQ and met Col Humayun who was now the GSO-1 in Engr Dte. I had little hope but he issued immediate orders and a good officer, Capt Ishrat Ali Alavi, was posted as my 2 I/C.

From then on there was a gap of 30 years before I met him in 1980. This was in Karachi when both of us had long retired from service, I met him when he was the MD of MLC, a consulting company in the field of Engineering at Karachi. It was a formal meeting that lasted for about 15 minutes, though coffee and snacks were served with welcoming expressions.

I had heard from people knowing him that Brig Humayun lived in Damloti (a village situated a few Kms North-East beyond Malir Cantt) but never had a reason to go there. Damloti is famous for its source of subsoil water that is supplied to Karachi. Damloti has many farms that supply fresh fruit and vegetables to the markets in Karachi. Brig Humayun’s farm was also located in Damloti and it was named by him as “The Bridgehead Farms”, quite a strange name for civilians but very familiar to Army personnel.

Damloti wells, Karachi

Then in 2003, some old colleagues happened to get together and Brig Humayun was the centre of our talk. One Lt Col Niazi had been close to him and on his suggestion the four of us decided to call on him unannounced and we did so the same day. The four of us were myself, Late Lt Col Mujtaba Zaheer Kidwai (an outstanding officer from Corps of Engrs), Late Lt Col Muhammad Laeeq Niazi (an Engrs officer ex 2nd OTS Course who was later transferred to Ord) and another officer whose name I do not recollect. The Brig gave us a warm welcome and  after an hour a sumptuous lunch was served. It generated an atmosphere free from protocol and all sorts of anecdotes and jokes were shared. The meeting ended at about 4 p.m. and each of us was loaded with gifts of fruit, vegetables and bags of wheat from “The Bridgehead Farms”.

In this meeting I was deeply impressed by the loneliness of Brig Humayun’s life who remained a bachelor all his life. He lived in a huge bungalow, surrounded by palm trees and agricultural land. When asked how did he pass time, he replied by saying “Oh, I have a lot of work pertaining to the MLC (the company he had been heading up to late eighties or so)”.

However, I decided to visit him now and then and share the events of our lives. I used to phone him to make sure he was home. I noticed that he thoroughly enjoyed my company and later it was he who started calling me on phone saying, “Wajahat yaar! Aa ja”.

I used to visit him at least once a month and spend four to five hours with him. He had a rich library and that was an attraction for me to borrow books from. In early 2009, I came to know that he was suffering from heart ailment. When asked he would say, “Oh, there is a good CMH nearby in Malir Cantt and there is no problem”. He had two or three loyal servants and a couple of cars to facilitate movement. He had a niece living in Defence Housing Authority whom he used to visit occasionally.

It was around the month of October 2009 that I visited him last. Since I had also undergone the bypass surgery a few years back, so we used to share all the details of how to take care of heart. He used to keep asking me about how I was keeping fit. He often advised me to take care of my health and ORDERED me to keep him informed that I was regular on exercise and medicine. On that day he informed me that he was undergoing a special heart treatment for which he had to go to DHA where a doctor used to give him the treatment. The procedure involved binding his torso with stripes of steel and God knows what. That day when I took his leave, he came out, hugged me and said “Lodi! You must also take this treatment and mind you THIS IS AN ORDER”.

I said, “Sir, rest assured I shall try”.

A couple of days later I got a call from Rawalpindi and Brig Zafarul Islam (1st OTS Course), a retired officer from Engrs, was on-line. Exchanging news and reminiscing the past he enquired about Brig Humayun. I told him that he was fine and that I had visited him a couple of days back. Brig Zafar asked for Brig Humayun’s telephone number. A couple of hours later Brig Zafar was again on-line. The first thing I asked him whether he had spoken to Brig Humayun. Brig Zafar said, “My dear, Humayun has passed away and his Namaz-e-Janaza has already been held at Masjid-e-Tooba in DHA”.

My eyes welled up and it was a great shock. From that day I have been wondering whether he died a natural death? He was an excellent man with a golden heart. May Allah bless him with a high station in Paradise. This wish I always include in my prayers.

Maqdoor ho to khaak say pouchoon...

If I ever get a chance I would ask earth, “Oh miser,
What did you do with all the precious treasures that were entrusted to you?

Khaak mein kaya sooratain ....

Related Pages:
Remembering Our Comrades
Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)

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If it’s not inconvenient, please do write your brief comment in the Comment Box.
You are also welcome to contribute any tribute to your Veteran friend by sending it on Email of the Editor at : nativepakistan@gmail.com


  1. Kanwarjit jit Singh Malik says:

    Comrades are on both sides of divide.They are born to play their part of life,till they are called by their our MAKER to His Court to give an acct of their deeds?
    I feel we as men/women in uniform should ask our self a BIG QUESTION. WHY IN UNIFORM THIS HATE BUT LOVE IN CIVIL STREET AS IT EXISTED BEFORE THE DIVIDE?
    Sqn/LDr KJS MALIK(R).
    Commissioned in 1952

  2. Lt Col Muhammad Arshad Meer, Retd (2nd SSC) says:

    A worth reading article. Old is always gold but sometimes fewer become antique and Brig Humayun was among those. May Allah bless his soul. Ameen.

  3. A unique story of love, affection and comradeship – but also of soldierly and gentlemanly conduct. God Bless you, Sir (Lt. Col. Wajahatullah Khan Lodi), and may God Bless the soul of the awesome Brig Naseeruddin Humayun.
    And thank you very much, the Editor of Native Pakistan, for the delightfully wonderful work you are doing.

  4. Maj Iltifat Ahmed Lone (R) says:

    An excellent article highlighting the professionalism, comradeship and respect. What a great officer was Brig Hamayun.
    May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace. Ameen

  5. Dear Col Wajahat Lodi,
    Sir, it is an excellent tribute to an icon of Corps of Engrs. Do you have some more photos of Brig Humayun and “The Bridgehead Farms”? If so, please send me these for inclusion in this article.

  6. Lt Col Syed ALi Baqar Zaidi (retd), Engrs says:

    I joined my unit from PMA in April 1977. We had heard a lot about Brig Humayun when our seniors used to quote him in different past events of the Corps. Today I have learnt what type of ‘metal’ was he.

  7. Maj Asif Niazi says:

    Good post. May Allah rest Brig’s soul in peace. Ameen.

  8. Col Wajahatullah,
    Sir, Very good write up….Narration is so smooth that I could smell the fragrance of comradeship, friendship and love oozing out of words. Reading touched the finer sides of feelings! Being a senior citizen I know the value of old acquaintances!!!
    May Allah Almighty bless you with long, happy and healthy life. Looking forward to having some more such sharing of experiences from you.

  9. Lt Col Masood Alam, Retd (2nd SSC) says:

    Sir, an excellent article which also reflects that even after shedding off the uniform retired officers care for those with whom they had served. This write up also proves that those who earn good reputation during service are always remembered with good words.
    Sir, thanks for such a nice write up.

  10. Sikandar Pasha says:

    Dear Col Wajahat sahib,
    An excellent write up on Brig Naseer-ud-Din. It amazes me what Rs 1000 could do in 1950s.
    By any chance, did you ever come accross Major Mohammad Muneer of 3rd Engineers Battalion during your course of service? He was commisioned in December 1950. Major Muneer embraced shahadat on 20 Sept 1965 at the BRB Canal in the Wagha Sector. In April 1965, he had served in the Rann of Kutch as well. He happened to be my uncle and I would highly appreciate any information on this officer.

  11. Tarik Abbas Rao says:

    Wonderful write up to pay tribute to the great man. I am really impressed by your writing skills. The best part is that when you are reading something and it force you to imagine the the scene and you feel that you were around when it happened. You did it Col. Sahib.

  12. Lt Col Bakht Biland (Retd) says:

    Wah Sir, OLD IS GOLD!!

  13. May his soul Rest in Peace. I did meet him during my service.

  14. We all have “The Sons of the Soil” heritage…and the legacy goes on. We are lucky for this heritage. In what we are today, people like Brig Humayun and Col Wajahatullah certainly have a good share. Thank you Sir!
    Duaaz for all the “Sons of this Soil.”

  15. Maj Gen Syed Ali Hamid, Retd (39 PMA) says:

    It is great service to the corps and to the Army to pay tribute to the legends…….excellent write up and thank you for the details of the move of the Engr Centre and SME. I am writing the history of the AC and were missing this info.
    Its also so nice to read a comment which is a tribute to Gen Mitha, a great soldier whose life reminds us that greatness lies in humility. God bless all these great departed souls.

  16. Amjad Majid Abbasi says:

    Wonderful write-up coming right from the heart.
    Sir, we have a Veterans forum on the Facebook and it will be a honour for us if you could join it.

  17. Brig Sultan Mahmud (Retd) says:

    What a nostalgic story about a now extinct breed of officers. It would have been a pleasure to have met him. These officers are a part of a tradition as old as the institution of the Army. It is so sad that they fade away with no or little family to carry that name. Would like to thank you for taking us back to an era that was.
    Incidently, my late father PA 104 Brig Sultan Muhammad (ex Comdt PMA) would have known him. Could anyone kindly know his Course or PA No.?

  18. Great story, sir!!

  19. Lt Col Muhammad Akram Abbasi, Retd, Signals says:

    Dear Col Wajahat,
    It is always a pleasure remembering old comrades. I have thoroughly enjoyed in reading a masterpiece in such simple words.
    May God bless you with good health.

  20. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi says:

    Dear Col Lodi,

    What a splendid piece of writing on Brig Humayaun. You may not remember me but I remember you very well as a young boy when you used to visit our home in the early 1980s.

    You must keep on contributing your pieces to this blog and may consider writing a longer piece which can be published.

    Looking forward to your next piece.

    Faisal Tirmizi
    S/O Late Brig Tirmizi, Avn

    • Dear Faisal Tirmizi,
      Col Wajahat knows you very well. When he learnt that I am an old Aviator, in a recent email he asked me whether I knew your late father.

  21. Dear Sir,
    Asslamo ‘Alakum.
    Kudos to you for this befitting tribute to our legendary sapper officer. I wonder whether Col Cheema knows that you had the honour of raising 13 Engr Bn. I was commissioned in that unit, saw action with them in erstwhile East Pakistan, was a POW with them, commanded 13 and have the unique honour of being their Col of Bn ever since 2004.
    Seeing your tributary article for Brig Humayun, Rashid wouldn’t be surprised that you are contributing commendably towards compiling our unit’s history and that you inspired me to do so.
    Whilst editing the History of KKH I was overawed by Brig Humayun’s for his distinctive role in carving the 8th Wonder of the World. I will scan some excerpts from the KKH book for the editor. Yet again, Sir, you have inspired me to do so. I loved your citing of Ghalib’s verse which I also quoted in my speech in a 13 EB’s ceremony last month to motivate them to write about such icons in particular.
    My sincere thanks and appreciations for Col Cheema (Editor) who has the same noble cause.
    My prayers and profound regards.

    • Dear Gen Parvez Akmal,
      Sir, I know that 13 Engr Bn was raised by Col Wajahat. I somehow missed it and after your reminder have added it in his introduction at the beginning of the article. :)

  22. Brig Waseem Zafar (Retd) says:

    Dear Col Wajhatullah,
    Sir, I very much enjoyed this article. I think you are course mate of my father (Brig Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, Arty) and my father-in-law (Brig Sabir Hussain Quershi, Baluch).

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

    To corroborate the impression and sentiment expressed in a comment by Col Shah Alam, I may quote my ex Commanding Officer, Lt Col (Retd) Mir Hadayat Ullah, Air Def, (31st PMA seniority), that while commanding an Air Defence unit in Malir Cantt, he was informed by an RP Sepoy one morning about a General Sahib wanting to see him. That RP sepoy was deputed at the barrier placed near the entry point to Malir Cantt while coming from Malir Halt direction, tasked not to allow all incoming traffic from Malir Halt to pass through unit lines, that provided a short cut to Malir Cantt destined vehicles.
    As a gesture of courtesy, CO came out of the office to greet the guest (General Sahib). He was awestruck to see Maj Gen (Retd) Abu Bakr Osman Mitha, standing close to his Suzuki Pick-up which he himself drove, wearing an ordinary shirt and shorts, with a pipe in his mouth. He asked for a favour, telling the CO that he was running a poultry farm in Damloti Farms and had to frequently commute from Karachi to his farm in that Suzuki vehicle and therefore may be permitted to pass through his unit lines area, a short cut, being an ex soldier.
    Since General Mitha had a reputation of a hard-taskmaster and during his tenure as Commandant PMA would appear at unimaginable time and places during the Cadets exercises, witnessing him in that attire and down to earth demeanour was perplexing for Col Hidayat Ullah. Such were the officers of that vintage. Simple and workaholic.

    • Maj Zuha Saeed (R) says:

      Sir, Great to hear this episode about Gen Mitha. The Army is great because of these great men, driving suzuki pick up and selling chicken, that too a man who is the father of our SSG, he raised them and was Comdt PMA. How down to earth these men were!! My respects, may Allah bless them all.

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

    Thanks for sharing this nostalgic anecdote. The breed of the soldiers, the likes of Brig Humayun, have almost faded away. And while we don’t see any more of them in real life such stories are still a great pleasure to read and remind us of the days past.

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