My friend Muhammad Rahim Khan, who passed away at the age of 96, became one of Pakistan’s most famous generals, but then pursued a career in diplomacy and civil service. During his retirement, he helped set up a school in Pakistan that caters to children from poor backgrounds, as well as a strong network in the UK.
Known as Rahim, he was born in Rawalpindi in British India at the time, a farmer, the fourth of Qasim Khan’s 10 children, and a housewife, Qasr Bibi. He studied at Government Middle School, Rawalpindi and Victoria Jubilee High School, Poonch.
He enlisted in the British Army in 1943 and in 1951, four years after the formation of Pakistan, he was selected by the country’s new army to train in Britain at Staff College, Kimberley, Surrey. On his return, he became a general in 1969. Wounded when he commanded an infantry division in the 1971 war with India, he was awarded the Crescent of Courage, Pakistan’s second highest military award for bravery.
He later served as ambassador to Pakistan in 1980 before accepting the civilian post of Secretary-General of Defense in Mozambique and then in Malaysia. He was also the chairman of Pakistan International Airways and Civil Aviation Authority.
Rahim knew how difficult conditions were for the people around him. As a boy, neither he nor any of his classmates had running water or electricity. At the time of his retirement in 1994, recognizing the importance of education in overcoming losses, and being impressed by the education he had seen in Britain, he and his brothers Kashmir Education Foundation (KEF) Educating enlightened children (and especially girls) in backward, rural Pakistan.
The first KEF school was built next to Rahim’s family home in Rawalpindi. This was followed by two more schools and the John Atkinson Teachers Training College (named after the VSO teacher). To this day, they are examples of high-quality, child-centered education. KEF offers scholarships to all students who pass the selection test but whose parents cannot afford the fees. A KEF branch is thriving in Bradford and Quest for Education in London has been set up in full support of the Foundation.
As Director General of the British Council, I met Rahim in London when he visited two UK schools that had partnered with two KEFs as part of the Global Schools Partnership, a British Council. There was a program that connected schools in the UK and abroad.
He lived modestly in his home in Rawalpindi, which also served as KEF headquarters. Although he developed dementia in his later years, he never lost sight of his blinking eyes or his encouraging, generous smile.
He married Kamala Ishaq in 1945. She died in 2007. He is survived by his siblings Rashid and Saghira.
STAY TUNED WITH US FOR MORE INTERESTING CONTENT ONLY ON DESINEW.XYZ