Mohammad Sharif Chattar
Dr Mohammad Sharif Chattar (1935-2007) was an educationist, botanist, author and poet and the first PhD of Azad Kashmir (Pakistani administered Kashmir). His research covered the plants and vegetation of the Cholistan desert in Punjab and the Thar desert in Sindh provinces of Pakistan. He is the author of three books on the subject of botany and many research articles. His only book on poetry could not be published due to his sudden death.
Born into the family of prominent Rajput Zamindars of Phulyana ( Rajouri), he had a difficult childhood as he was born two months after the death of his father. He was youngest of the five brothers. He received early education from his maternal grand father who was a notable religious figure. At the age of thirteen, he migrated to Pakistan after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. His family settled down at village Pindi Subherwal in Khari Sharif area of Mirpur District. He obtained primary and secondary education from Afzalpur and then went to Quetta with his elder brother who was a Subedar in Pakistan army. He passed F.Sc from Quetta and then graduated from Government College Lahore. After completing postgraduate degree in Botany from Jamshoro, University of Sindh, he joined Water and Power development Authority (WAPDA) for a very short period of time. He left the job due to his interest in teaching and joined the education sector as a young Lecturer at, the Gordon College Rawalpindi. He was greatly inspired by Prof Ralph Randles Stewart who was the principal of Gordon College. In order to look after his mother, he left the job at Gordon College and started working as a forest officer in the Forest department of Azad Kashmir. At the request of ministry of education, he again joined the education sector and later transferred to Govt. College Mirpur. He won a scholarship and went to Hungary for higher studies. He achieved PhD in Botany from the University of Szeged.
He was known for iron handed administration in the institutions, outspoken stance against unsuitable education policies of the Government and requisition of the Government properties occupied by the land mafias. He survived three attempts on his life but nothing could divert his attention from the principles he stood for. He was called "Gun-Toting Teacher" by the critics. He was aggressively vocal against the gun culture and politics in the educational institutions which earned him many enemies. He had many rivals in the education sector who were continuously threatened by his daring stands against irregularities in the department. Due to his self made principles and uncompromising attitude towards corruption, he was never promoted to the higher positions. He remained Principal of different Colleges for almost twenty five years. He was not even transferred to his own city and as a matter of fact, spent all his working life stationed hundreds of kilometer away from his home.
He was greatly respected by his students, colleagues, higher authorities and also by the rivals for his devoted efforts to promote academic, research and sports facilities in the institutions he served. Legend says that he was so much feared and respected by the subordinates and students that no body would leave the college premises without permission. He enforced discipline in the educational institutions when they were highly politicized and sprawling with deadly violence. After serving the Govt. Degree Colleges of Muzaffarabad, Dadyal (twice), Palandri and Rawalakot he retired as a principal from the College of Education Afzalpur in 1996.
On 24 July 2007 he suffered from a heart attack. He survived but after six days his condition deteriorated. He was taken to Al-Shifa hospital Islamabad but on Thursday 2 August 2007, he died peacefully.
He is buried inside the courtyard of Baba Peer-e-Shah Ghazi and near the shrine of famous Sufi poet of Kashmir, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh.
- University of Sindh
- University of Szeged
- Shoara-e-Kashmir by Mohammad Saghir Aasi
- Plants and vegetation of Thar Desert by M S Chattar
- Alaqa-e-Khari Tareekh aur Sakafat ke Tanazur mein by Raja Khizar Iqbal
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