BEHIND THE CURTAINS
with Prof. Dr. Azhar Hameed
Graduated KEMC 1976
First Person to do fellowship in ENT from CPSP 1982
Professor ENT AIMC/PGMI (1993-1998)
Head of Department ENT KEMU (1998-2015)
Dean of Surgery & Allied Health Sciences KEMU
Retired at Seniority no. 1 in Grade 21 (2014)
A family man to the core and a gentleman by nature, Dr. Azhar Hameed is soft spoken, places extreme importance in morality and yearns to spend more time with his children.
We were the pioneers when we shifted from Services Hospital to Jinnah Hospital, we had only one patient admitted in ward at the time and in the fear that he might leave in the night I appointed 9 doctors to come and stay with him in the ward all night for his comfort.
Why did you become a doctor?
I believed that I should have skill in my own hands and to earn my livelihood, I shouldn’t be dependent on pen and chair only. I should have a skill that is valued in the whole world. The world should be open for me. Secondly, since my childhood, I saw my grandparents ill and being looked after. My elder sisters were also doctors, two of my sisters retired as Professors of Physiology and there was an atmosphere of medical education at home. My father was an engineer. He would often say, ‘’Medical profession is a good profession for you where you are a real professional and develop real skills and the worlds becomes borderless for you.’’
Don’t you think that you gain earlier in engineering?
If you gain early, you get less in return and vice versa. The more effort you put in, the longer it takes. Medical profession requires a lot of effort and so the output is more and long lasting as compared to engineering.
Why did you choose ENT?
I did house job in surgery and medicine. Then I became demonstrator in Anatomy department at KEMC. I would dissect the bodies with my own hands and prepare for my FCPS at the same time so that my anatomy was prepared and it was prepared so well that I didn’t need to read the book. I went into surgery for primary fellowship. During that time, I met Dr. Asad Ullah Lone who was a world renowned figure in ENT. The field of ENT was wide open and there was no qualified person. Dr. Asad Ullah Lone suggested that I should join ENT. He was a very sincere teacher and person. After talking to him, I talked to my father and shifted to ENT at Mayo Hospital.
If you were not a doctor?
Mai kuch bhi hota, aik acha insaan zaroor hota. I’ve always tried to be a good human being. I’ve never thought that if I were not a doctor. I’m fully satisfied. Alhamdulillah!
What kind of a student were you in college?
I was always among the top students. I never got a distinction or position but my marks were always among the top ten.
In final year Gyne viva, Prof. Sial asked me, ‘’Khatoon k chaihray pe kia likha hua hai?’’
I said, ‘’Mujhe kya pata kya likha hua hai.’’ Unhon ne meri sheet utha k zor se phainki.
Maine kaha mai fail ho gaya hun. Us k baad do sawaal unhon ne poochay. Mai ghar gya
Aur pareshaan hua. Result nikla tou mai pass tha. 70% marks thay gyne & obs mae. Mai
phir un k paas dobara gaya aur kaha k sir ab tou mujhe bata dain k khatoon k chaihray
pe kya likha tha. Unhon ne kaha wo anemic thi. Pale nazar a rahi thi. Maine kaha sir ap
k experience k mutabik wo pale nazar a rahi thi lekin hamari itni vision nahin hai. Dua
karain k ap k level tak ham pohnchain tou hamari vision us k mutabik ho jay. Phir wo
wo hans paray. He was a great teacher and surgeon.
That’s why face reading is your favourite question now?
He laughed and said, Yehi baat. Your observation of patient starts the moment he walks into your room.
What do you look for while taking viva? What’s your criteria to pass or fail?
For me, pass fail criteria is very simple. Every student who comes for the exam is already pass and would get above the passing marks. But if he hasn’t come to the ward or class whole year, even then he’s not failed and asked up to eight questions and if he answers 50% of the answers correct, he’s passed. But the problem for such students is that you have to pass at three different places which such students are unable to do. Students pass or fail of their own.
Why is ENT regarded as the most terrifying subject at KE?
This is because in the past, ENT was a final year subject. The students had studied Pathology and General Surgery by that time . Now when they take exam, they have neither studied Pathology nor General Surgery and are examined in a super specialty. There are many things they don’t understand during the lecture. So the questions are made easy and the marking is very lenient. Its not the fault of a student. I think a student is too immature to understand ENT in fourth year. That is the problem.
Part of that terror is due to you and Dr. Pal. Your viva is considered as the toughest at KE.
Hadis e hai k sunnay ki baat par amal na karain.
The students of this college are very lucky. Na mai kaarwayi daalta hun na undue face expressions exchange karta hun. I always maintain the student-teacher difference. Students ko ye pata hi nahin hai k unhain kitne grace marks de kar mai ghar baithay pass karta hun. Aur is par mai qasam khata hun. But terror is baat ka hai k aik senior teacher ka umer k sath waise hi gap itna barh jata hai k us ka terror hota hai. Hamaray ooper bhi Mirza Sahb ka bohat terror tha. Akhtar Khan Sahb ka bohat terror tha. Hamain bataya gaya tha k jis ki taraf daikh k wo thora sa muskura dete hain wo fail ho jata hai. Magar aesi koi baat nai thi. Ham ne imtihaan dia aur bohat achay number le k pass ho gaye.
Whom do you admire the most among your colleagues?
I’ve believed in team work throughout my like. I myself have always worked to the best of myself and found all my colleagues of the top most level. I can’t draw a line between them. I’m proud that some of my students became my colleages as professors.
What has been your aim in life?
I have always aimed to rightfully receive the incentives from the government that come with a certain level of seniority and position of merit. If you are deprived of them, you should fight for them like a gentleman. Professor is the highest position you can achieve in your teaching career all over the world. I was the first Dean of Surgery when KE was promoted to University. I believe to deliver the best possible as a doctor and human to the public and students at large which has been my aim.
Where did you have your best experience as Professor?
KE is the place I was born and KE is the place from where I retire with elevation.
According to you what are the pros and cons of KE?
There’s no place with all pros and no cons because that would stop the growth of that place. KE will have to keep modifying itself with the changing world and I am happy that we have a well-established institution that can cope with those challenges. We have left negativity quite far behind and we are moving towards further progress as a university.
Today, I see a huge difference in KE as a university in 2006 and as a university in 2016.
Today when your transcripts go abroad from KE, they already know about KE. In a decade I personally believe that we will qualify for world ranking.
The concept of “teacher and student”
has been replaced by the
concept of “learner and facilitator.”
What is you favorite place to vacation in the world?
Wherever my children are.
I have two daughters and a son. My son was the only Pakistani in his batch who was selected by Oxford University on merit after A levels and he passed out as a top graduate, topping in 32 colleges. Both my daughters are doctors and graduates of KE and are currently in their postgraduate training abroad. I wanted my son to become a doctor but seeing my working schedule, he decided for a different field.
How was your experience being a Staff President of sports?
If you really want to know what impact you have on your students, there is no better way than to find out by being a staff president. I have been staff president for 5 years and till date when I am in the ground, I have not had the need to say a single word to any student regarding behavior or conduct. Agar meine keh dya funfair itnay bajay khatam hojana hai tu mujay pata hai mujay dobara kehney ki zarurat nai paray gi. I would like to thank all the kemcolians who worked day and night to make all sports events such a success and for reciprocating the same love I felt for them.
Dr. Azhar Hameed with Mr. Zubair (Acting Director Physical Education KEMU, 2014)
How do you feel about your retirement?
I am happier than before. Alhamdulilah
What goals you think you have achieved in your life?
Mard wo kamyaab hai jis k bachay kamyaab hain.
And having said that I think I have achieved my goals. I served as house officer, as medical officer, as Senior Registrar, as Assistant Professor, as Associate Professor, as Professor, as Head of Department, as Dean of Surgery. I have returned to KE what KE gave to me. I believe one should keep on having goals in life as long as one can. Sky should be the limit.
Will you miss KE?
I think there is no bigger example than the fact that I got a call from you for the interview and I rushed here to give it.
How were you as a child?
I think my sisters would answer that better but I was a beloved, extremely pampered child being the only son. I was given a life like a king. My father being an ICS Officer retired as a very senior person in the civil department (Irrigation & Power) and we had very comfortable household. I could never compete with the quality of life he provided us. (May Allah rest his soul in peace. He is buried in Makkah.)
Did you ever think of settling abroad?
No. My father died very early and I had four sisters and an old mother. All the responsibility fell on me. I had a lot of family obligations. But as far as my training is concerned there is no place in the world where I have not attended seminars and conferences and observed their medical setup to learn. Even today I attend meetings of American Academy every year.
What would you advise to the students?
Be a good human being, a disciplined person, an ethical doctor. Don’t take shortcuts. Be obedient to your parents and teachers.
What about students who want to pursue ENT?
Brilliant career! It’s a very wide field and jobs in ENT abroad are extremely difficult to get. But if you are determined enough, any field will make a place for us. ENT today covers microscopic and endoscopic surgery along with head and neck and this makes ENT more attractive field.
Is it a good profession for girls?
Medical field is genderless. And medical specialties are genderless. But I do think that if a lady comes into ENT she will sweep over everybody in her private practice as there are few lady ENT surgeons.
How do you spend your regular Sundays?
With my family. Every single hour I can spare. Nowadays I am alone at home, my children have left Pakistan and my wife is visiting one of my kids and yet we are in contact almost all the time.
I endorse the saying that behind every successful man is a woman.
Those who don’t believe it, will, but with the passage of time.
Both in my children’s life and my own career,
the presence of my wife has done wonders and
has made me realize the importance of having
a well-educated, well-groomed wife. I admire her and I am grateful to her.
A woman has the power to take you and your children to the top if she is capable enough.
If she is not educted and she is not brilliant she will perhaps not deliver that good.
I was the man behind my children but the main vision was that of my wife.
What are your hobbies?
Travelling, sightseeing, walking, playing indoor games, hanging out with family for good food, to surf on google for recent researches going on on different aspects and sometimes I watch world channels like BBC, CNN, Fox News, other than our local channels to keep myself up to date .
Did you play sports?
Yes. I was a very good table tennis player and you will be surprised to know I stopped playing table tennis when I became professor only for the reason that the professor playing it didn't look good at that time. I used to defeat the college champion student as an Associate professor. I still believe, maybe I am wrong, if I practise for 2 weeks with a good player, I can get a little above an average player.
Do you follow table tennis now on tv ?
No. I am now more interested in cricket and football, more inclined to football.
In football it used to be Maradona and then suddenly the captain of Team Argentina, Messi earned all my sympathies.
Favotite football team ?
Strangely I see two teams coming up, one from Portugal and the African team from Ghana.
Your interest in movies/dramas?
Not really. I used to see dramas in student life. Now I see only if my wife insists on watching dramas with her. Otherwise I think most of the doctors usually are short of time. They like to spend their free time with their children.
Your take on Imran Khan?
Now that I am out of service I can say everything. He is a good gentleman and I appreciate him because he is a well educated person.
By the virtue of education, there is change in attitude and behaviour.
Not just the young people but also the elderly are going crazy after him beacuse he follows certain principles. He follows more principles than many of the people.
Do you think he would make a promising Prime Minister?
Face is the index of the mind. I wish that wherever our PM goes people should look at him and think before talking to him. This reminds me of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto when he was the foreign minister. He went to meet the US President and was given just 2 minutes. But the meeting continued for half an hour and he remarked after the meeting that if Mr Bhutto had been in US, he would have taken him in his cabinet to which Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto replied that if he had been in US he would have been at the President's place. I pray the country may have a PM who is in larger interest of nation. May Allah do best for Pakistan.
There is a lot of talent and potential in Pakistani Community. We are only pushed back by unfortunate forces. Dil na choren, dat kr rhen, ankh ma ankh daal kr baat kren.
Kemcolians score a 99 percentile only after studying for 6 months after final year while the students of Agha Khan start studies from 1st year to get this score.
HEC awarded me as the best teacher of the university.
Did you ever want to be the VC?
You should do what you are best at delivering and tags are not important for it. People will remember you as a good doctor , surgeon or a good human being not after your designation. Stephen Hawking is recognised world over as a professor ,not a principal. You should deliver the best in your own capacity and if you are satisfied with it then you are a happy person. I am satisfied that I have delivered more than my capacity. During last 3-5 years the university assignments were so many that took me away from the hospital work a little bit but that was part of my job.
You like being a teacher more than the surgeon?
Jab tak mai surgery na kar loon mujhe lagta hai k mere hathon ko Rhematoid Arthritis hogy hai . When I started my career in surgery, then whatever free time we had, Prof Rasheed Ahmed Qureshi made us sit in the theatre, would give us silk and tell us to tie knots to calibrate our hand movements. Surgery is an art, a craftsmanship and teaching and surgery are linked together.
Do you think it had an effect on your family life ?
A lot. And that affected my health. To compensate I had to give extra time, used to stay awake till 2 pm at nights to have a chat with the family . From montessori to graduation, I provided pick and drop facility to all my children.
Your idea of a favorite meal that you like your wife to cook for you?
The choice of my wife and me is absolutely the same so I don’t need to ask her to make anything special for me. The kitchen is the worst place in her eyes and when the cook is on leave, we go to Gymkhana or order food home. Sometimes she likes to make food for her family out of love and affection. Anyhow, she can make good food.
Do you cook ?
I have never cooked but I think if I can operate on a human being I can cook as well but it's taste might not be as good as that cooked by an expert chef.
Message for the forthcoming students ?
Her anay wala janay walay se behter hota hai. And they have to prove that they are doing better than old students. That is how the country and the institutes build up. They need to work harder than their predecessors . Make yourself more disciplined. Be more punctual and ethical as you will be facing more challenges and harder competition. Let me tell you they will be tuned like that and they will automatically be working harder and I am confident that the institution will be in the hands of very brilliant and good Kemcolians in the future days to come.