Obituary: Brig. Muhammad Abdul Latif



Brig. Muhammad Abdul Latif

Brig M. Abdul Latif a conscientious doctor and an able administrator of the Army Medical Corps (AMC), passed away on 9th Oct 2014. He was 93 years old. He got his basic education at Lawrence College Ghora Gali Murree – studied at F.C. College Lahore and earned MBBS degree from the King Edward Medical College Lahore in 1947.

He joined the Pak Army Medical Corps (later AMC) in 1947 being the first doctor to obtain commission after independence. Received basic military training at the PAMC Centre Lahore (later Abbottabad) under the command of legendary Col Heyward who was a pioneer in establishing the PAMC Centre. Col Heyward gave excellent training to the AMC officers by demonstrating how to dress – calling the officers in his bed-room in the morning and also grooming them in other spheres of life. Before joining the PAMC, he did voluntary work as a doctor at the Walton refugee’s camp – working day and night with missionary zeal. The great Quaid-e-Azam visited the refugee’s camp, had warm handshake with Dr. Abdul Latif and asked him, “How is the work going on”? He replied we are looking after the patients. The Quaid warmly said “good, keep it up”. He remembered that encounter with immense nostalgic pleasure.

He served troops in Azad Kashmir field area as a Regimental Medical Officer and was very popular among the troops. He served at Officers Training School, Kohat and Pakistan Military Academy as a Medical Officer – Army Officers training Institutions. In 1956 he went on a course at Army Medical Services School, SAN Antonio; USA.

He served in many field medical units – later commanding a medical battalion in the rank of Colonel. He was considered to be highly competent in field medical units work. He worked as a staff officer at the Medical Directorate, GHQ in the rank of Major – later on in senior ranks of Lt Col, Col and Brigadier. He was an industrious and illustrious staff officer who also served as a staff officer at the Military Secretary Branch.

At the AMC centre, he served as senior instructor -= responsible for education / training of the AMC Para-medical staff and basic military training of AMC officers. He commanded Military Hospital Rawalpindi with the rank of Col and CMH Rawalpindi with the rank of Brig – had the distinction of commanding both MH and CMH Rawalpindi. He provided excellent services to the patients – checking their meals, living conditions – all kept in good conditions. Supervised patient care diligently – whether the nursing services were good – took regular rounds – made sure that medical officers were looking after patients humanely and professionally competently – made surprise visits to the wards even at night to make sure that patients are looked after well.

In 1973, I was working as a medical specialist at Militarily Hospital Rawalpindi. He would visit my out-door clinic to discuss indoor patient’s urgent problem – not summoning me to his office so that patient care is not disturbed. He believed in the patient centric care – patient as a VVIP. He took keen interest in the welfare of his staff other ranks, civilian workers, nursing staff, junior officers, last senior officers and least for himself.

He was a role model – created a harmonious environment leading a well spirited team. His lifelong motto was “duty comes first” place duty above self. He kept himself professionally updated. He used to say that “in the Army Medical Corps, administration pertains to patient’s medical treatment / profession, other functions are performed by AG, QMG Branch, Accounts Dept etc”. He was a life-long learner and a teacher for younger doctors and Para-medical staff.

He was an epitome of honesty. He really belonged to original old Pakistan created by Quaid-e-Azam and his lieutenants – not new Pakistan – a term floated in 1971 by a politician. He was a keen sportsman, made squash as a hobby and mastered the sport to the extent that he would have tough matches with the World Champion Hashim Khan and defeated him in a few friendly matches.

He was humble to the core and had a lot of empathy – He was an excellent family man, looked after his relatives. He had immense spirit decorps – after retirement whenever any AMC doctor had a problem, he was the first to reach the family. He practiced religion correctly.May Allah bless his soul (Aameen).

Lt Gen Prof. Emeritus
Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar
Former Surgeon General/DGMS (IS), Pakistan Army