The ten-year-old boy used to go to the graveyard in Piryalo. It was an odd place for a kid but he went there because that is where he knew he would find Syed Walayat Shah, his mathematics teacher, who used to sit there with his friends. The boy brought his maths copy and would interrupt their katchehri to badger Walayat Shah with questions. Walayat was so moved by the boy’s earnestness that he began to give him his undivided attention during these graveyard sessions. This was not the only teacher who encountered his burning ambition. English teacher Ghulam Rasool gave the boy free tuitions on the condition that he would study at his house one hour before Fajr prayers. So the kid turned up every day with a lantern in one hand and his books in the other at 4 am.
That little boy would grow up to become one of the greatest names in learning in upper Sindh. His name was Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui, best known as the enterprising vice chancellor of the Sukkur Institute of Business Administration, a post he held from 2004 till the day he could no longer. Nisar sahib passed away early June 22, 2020 and was laid to rest at the university near the mosque.
Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui was born in 1943 in a small village called Warrayo Goth some ten kilometers from Sukkur city. His family was forced to move to Piryalo, a small town in Khairpur district, when their village flooded. Nisar’s father Abdul Wahid Siddiqui was a Reader in the district court of Khairpur and died when Nisar was just eight years old. There were five elder sisters and a brother, who died in early childhood, and thus Nisar was the only male left in the family.
He completed his matric from Government High School Piryalo and then did his Intermediate from Government Naz Pilot Higher Secondary School, Khairpur. He returned to teach English, mathematics and economics in the same school in Piryalo after that.
But Nisar was not satisfied with this level of education so he went off to do a Masters in Economics, M. Ed and LLB from Sindh University Jamshoro, besides attempting the CSS exams which he passed with flying colors. After serving as a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) he was promoted to Deputy Commissioner. Commissioner and Secretary were not far off either.
During his tenure as the Commissioner for Sukkur Division from 1993 to 1996 Nisar sahib laid the foundation for the Institute or Business Administration in 1994 in a two-room Public School Sukkur, so the young men and women of Sukkur could have a chance at acquiring a business degree.
The Sindh government obliged his request for land and gave him a massive one where Sukkur IBA University stands today. From 1994 to 2004 Sukkur IBA was affiliated with IBA Karachi and then it was given a charter to award degrees. After his retirement from the bureaucracy in 2004, Nisar sahib was appointed Director of Sukkur IBA and then VC, when the institution was declared a university in 2017.
But he did not stop there, and indeed, this is also why he is revered in the area: he started 13 community colleges and over 40 schools which are run under Sukkur IBA University. Its original campus, Public School Sukkur, is also managed under this umbrella.
“Though he was a deputy commissioner, all of us brothers and sisters went to government schools,” said his elder son Fayyaz, who serves at the Sindh Building Control Authority as a deputy director. Nisar sahib always preferred government schools and felt that the only way to raise their standard was to increase the enrollment.
One value that underpinned his entire approach to education was honesty; this applied not just to his work but his personal life as well. “Many times my teacher sent me back home because my uniform was torn in places,” said Fayyaz, referring to the time when Nisar sahib was the deputy commissioner of Mirpurkhas. “Baba used to tell the teacher that he would get a new uniform as soon as his salary came.” The children were not allowed to use the official vehicle to go to school. They went by foot or on the tonga. “Baba was the deputy commissioner but we had only four charpoys and a sofa set in our house.”
By extension, of course, Nisar sahib was against copying and plagiarism, cheating in exams. And so, Sukkur IBA was the first in Sindh to establish cheating-free examination centers.
All Nisar sahib wanted was for Sukkur IBA to flourish and be known as a centre of excellence.
According to Registrar Engr. Zahid Hussain Khand, Nisar sahib made young people his priority as he knew how badly they needed a chance to get ahead. “His talent hunt program was one of the unique aspects of Sukkur IBA University,” he said. The young people came from across Pakistan, many from extremely humble backgrounds, in order to study there on fully funded scholarships.
He used to often say: “I am waiting for the day when an American President will call me and ask for his son to be admitted to Sukkur IBA University.”