KFK - Gains and losses
Crossroads often present one with defining moments of one’s life. In 1976, given a choice between cricket and career, the heavy-hearted Kasim Feroze, only 18, opted to give up his sporting dreams.
Cricket’s loss was to be banking’s gain, on his way to performing senior executive roles in the financial sector of Pakistan. Following a highly successful and unblemished 45-year career, which he marked in June, KFK looks back with absolutely no regrets. It will be more nearer to the truth to say that he has had the best of both worlds, for throughout this period whilst climbing the professional ladder, he has been in close touch with the game, in one way or the other.
Given his professional accomplishments, Kasim not surprisingly, for the last two decades, has become a well-known figure in the social circles of Punjab, having his base now in Lahore, his adopted home city. His persona seems to stem more from his soft nature and well-honed PR skills, besides anything else. As the current Chairman of Old Ravian Association (ORA) and with a high-profile standing, no wonder Kasim is often seen amongst the elite of Pakistan. Shaukat Tarin, the current Finance Minister of Pakistan and Azmat Tarin, CEO of Silkbank, have both been his colleagues and family friends. By refusing to let the success get to his head, Kasim would have more boxes ticked against his name, than your run-of-the-mill banking official.
Born in Bahawalpur (Punjab), Pakistan on January 21, 1958, Kasim Feroze Khan (KFK) is second in line amongst seven brothers and five sisters, from his father’s three marriages. His father – Feroze Ahmed Khan, who originated from Dera Ghazi Khan, did his MSc Physics with distinction from Aligarh University. He was appointed Professor in Sadiq Egerton College, Bahawalpur, before his induction in the 1960 Pakistan Civil Service batch. After which he would serve as City Magistrate in Bahawalpur, often spotted cycling to the courts.
Feroze Ahmed Khan’s death in November 2020, closed a chapter on a 95-year life journey, with a number of credits and his good reputation intact. His achievements were set to inspire all to seek high goals in life and they did him proud by excelling in civil service, banking, medicine, the arm forces and IT. The eldest son Tariq Feroze, retired as Additional Secretary in Islamabad and another Taher Feroze, is one of the top psychiatrics in Pakistan. Mustafa Feroze has risen presently to be one of the leading physicians in U.K. medical profession. The three younger brothers – Nadeem Feroze, Ahmed Feroze and Murtaza Feroze – too hold executive positions in Engro Group, alBaraqah Bank and United Bank Ltd., respectively.
Kasim and his siblings would face a constant challenge of switching from one city to another and having to start all over again in the schools attended in Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar, Chakwal, Campbellpur (now Attock), amongst 12-13 different locations, before he finally did his matriculation from Government High School, Hasilpur in 1971. He had taken up cricket whilst in grade six student at Cantt Public School, Campbellpur and would help Government High School, Chakwal to become Jhelum district champions.
Kasim recalls, ‘Whilst growing up, the great Pakistan opening batsman - Hanif Mohammed was my hero and someone later on reminded me of the fact that I was born in the middle of his epic match-saving 337 against West Indies at Bridgetown in Barbados. The ‘Little Master’ carried the Pakistan batting on his shoulders for 18 years, only to finish an international career on a sour note. I still recall the emotional tone in the words of TV commentator Iftikhar Ahmed, who said that the master opening batsman had ‘called it a day’. ‘Salah-ud-din replaces injured Hanif’ was the heading of Pakistan Times, on the morning of the second Test at Lahore, which with wise council could have been agreed as Hanif Mohammed’s final appearance, hence opening the way for a grand farewell, which he truly deserved as a world-class cricket figure.’
‘Opening with debutante younger brother Sadiq Mohammed at Karachi, Hanif with scores of 22 and 35 had displayed good form with his trademark steady accumulation of runs but the selectors thought otherwise. It was a sad end to a great career and I was still in awe of him and in fact could not believe my luck when I played against PIA ‘A’ at National Stadium, Karachi in 1971. In the same match I floored a caught and bowled chance offered by his younger brother Mushtaq, who knew I had missed the chance due to my long hair obstructing line of vision. It was a harsh lesson and I never forgot it.’
As a 12-year old, Kasim won selection for Bahawalpur, in the matches against Khairpur and Hyderabad in the West Zone of the inaugural National u-19 Championship in 1970-71. Few months down the line, Bahawalpur Cricket Association (BCA), led by all-rounder Javed Bhatti, saw no reason to hold him back, when included in their squad for the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He was immediately picked and would in fact celebrate his 13th birthday on the final day of the match against Karachi Whites at Bahawalpur, thus making him at 12 years and 363 days, the youngest first-class cricketer on debut. A feat acknowledged in Guinness Book of World Records.
Kasim along with Farooq Shera, were by far two of the brightest cricketing talents to emerge from the city of Bahawalpur. His figures of 3-33 in the National Bank’s first innings at Bahawalpur in the Patron’s Trophy clash, would remain the best return of his 13-match first-class career. Few days on, his contribution with the bat in his side’s dramatic one-wicket on December 3, 1973, is taken up by Kasim himself.
‘It was an unforgettable moment for both on personal account and that in the history of Bahawalpur cricket. National Bank line-up included some well-known names in Ijaz Hussain ‘Khapra’, Afzaal Ahmed, Haroon Rasheed, Wallis Mathias, skipper Nasim-ul-Ghani, Iqbal Qasim and Muffasir-ul-Haq. After we had bowled them out for 214 in their second innings, it left us to chase 239. Javed Bhatti (74) and Iqbal Awan (67) had given the side a great chance but when last man Shahid Hussain walked in, we were still 14 runs shy of our target. My request for a runner, since I had a twisted ankle, was refused by National Bank but I still managed to hang around and get the necessary runs. At the end of the match both the tail-enders were lifted off the field, amidst noisy celebration, and both of us were presented with Rs.1000 by the District Sports Officer.’
In his four years at Government College (GC), Lahore, starting with 1971-72 session, Kasim played under Majid Usman, P.J.Mir, Wasim Raja and Nadeem Ahmed, respectively. With further strength provided by the likes of Shafiq Ahmed ‘Papa’, Agha Zahid, Azhar Khan, Abdul Qadir, Jamshed Hussain, Sultan Rana, Mudassar Nazar, Nauman Shabbir, Salah-ud-din and Arif Naqqash, GC were outright winners in inter-collegiate and their players also dominating in Punjab University squad.
In order to avoid the matches being taken over by the rowdy behaviour of over-enthusiastic supporters of GC and Islamia College, the inter-collegiate final was often shifted from Lahore to Bahawalpur or Sialkot. In one such game, Kasim was in the headlines after claiming 11 wickets in a match - one of the highlights of his short career in the game - against Islamia College (Railway Road), played on a matting wicket at Sialkot. A number of GC players, including skipper Mudassar and Kasim, also featured for Punjab that was beaten on first-innings lead against Sind in the final of the 1974-75 National u-19 Championship.
‘My admission in GC, Lahore in 1971 was a big deal for me and it gave me an opportunity to play good quality of cricket. One of the Test umpires – Munawwar Hussain Khan, aka ‘Mannay Khan’ – after watching me bowl, had insisted that I must enrol at GC, which certainly was a confidence booster. Abdul Qadir, was a year junior to me and we as a group had access to the vast knowledge and experience of former Test players - Nazar Mohammad, Gul Mohammad and Agha Saadat Ali.’
‘My GC colleague Agha Zahid had taken me into Cantt Gymkhana and I would represent the club in the Wazir Ali Summer League (Senior Section). The other team members of the club that I recall from those days are M.I.Okasha, Salim Iqbal, Tariq Bashir, Najum Mirza, Ishtiaq Gul, Akram Khan and our wicket-keeper - Qamar Javed Bajwa, who at present is Pakistan Chief of the Army Staff.’
‘My train journey, in order to represent Cantt Gymkhana, would kick off from Hasilpur to Bahawalpur and then arriving in Lahore Cantt on the morning of the match before returning via Karachi Express, back to my base. On one such occasion, I arrived in Lahore to find out that the league game has been called off and replaced with single-wicket championship. I managed to beat Suleman Farooqi in the first round, only to be knocked out by Wasim Raja, an all-round genius, in the following round.’
England 1974, Kasim recalls
‘I could not make it to the final trials as I was suffering from high temperature. A couple of days prior to the team’s departure, I got a call from BCCP secretary Ghulam Mustafa Khan (GMK), who asked me to come to the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore at 3pm, fully kitted. I was one of 3-4 players, alongside Abdul Qadir, who were being given second opportunity to book their names on a flight to England. Masood Salah-ud-din, fellow selectors and other Board officials were present on the afternoon.
‘After delivering just three balls, A.H.Kardar, the BCCP head, thanked me and left me wondering whether I had made enough impression or I wasn’t worthy. Deep down, I wasn’t very hopeful but was overjoyed, after getting a confirmation from Nasir Khosa of my inclusion in the 14-man squad, in the following day’s copy of Pakistan Times. Looking back, perhaps my 6-63 for Bahawalpur-Multan Combined XI against Anglo-Wanderers at Bahawalpur and complimentary words from touring team’s coach Khan Mohammed, had strengthened my case.’
‘I along with Farrukh Zaman was one of the two slow left-arm spinners, picked by the selectors, one of whom, Imtiaz Ahmed, former Pakistan captain and wicket-keeper, accompanied us as a manager on the tour with the cricket Board secretary Ghulam Mustafa Khan, as his deputy. I owed my selection primarily to Zafar Altaf, who had lot of faith in my abilities and to the kindness of Ghulam Mustafa Khan, who allowed me enough time to recover from my illness.’
‘Bowling on English wickets was so different from Pakistan and our vice-captain, Javed Miandad, asked me not to flight the ball too much. I soon found out that my arm ball zipped through much quicker than what I had experienced on pitches in Pakistan. Miandad from such a young age was ever so sharp and astute and I would go as far as to call him, ‘Find of The Century’. An absolute genius and far ahead of his time. My six wickets @ 27.33 off 63 overs, placed me on top of the slow bowlers in our tour averages.’
‘At the end of the u-19 tour, we were treated to watch a Test match at Lord’s – between England and Pakistan. There was a controversy of water leaking through the covers, enabling ‘Deadly’ Derek Underwood to claim 13 wickets in the match on an almost unplayable wicket. We were invited to the Pakistan dressing room by Aftab Gul, who to his surprise had been left out by the team management, thus paving the way for the beginning of a successful opening pairing of Sadiq Mohammed and Majid Khan.’
‘Few months after the Pakistan u-19 tour of England, I would be playing my final first-class game – for Bahawalpur against Pakistan Universities at Punjab University, Old Campus Ground, Lahore in the 1974-75 Patron’s Trophy. In what proved to be my last outing, I was adjudged ‘obstructing the field’, in the days I was too naïve to know that one could be dismissed in such fashion.’
‘With so little international cricket at the time and often players with very good domestic cricket record, i.e. Javed Bhatti, Mohammad Sabir, Munawwar Hussain, Arshad Parvez, Agha Zahid, Sultan Rana, etc. to name a few, not given enough opportunities, perhaps helped me to make up my mind. Some of the best talent from the lesser known cricket centres – Bahawalpur, Lyallpur, Multan, Rawalpindi and Sialkot – was simply ignored. In Lahore, Raja Saleem Akhtar, father of Wasim and Ramiz Raja, an influential figure in Lahore cricket, did suggest me to severe my ties with Bahawalpur to stand a better chance but I could not possibly do that.’
‘I have had a very close relationship with a number of leading showbiz artists and after a brief appearance in a TV drama production, I became eligible to represent their cricket teams. The names of Ghulam Mayyuddin, Shan Shahid, Moamer Rana and Saud Khan, come to mind and I have often said to them had they not gone into acting profession, they would have made good cricketers. They are all good friends and we have had great fun together, both on and off the field, for many years. I can also confirm that two of Pakistan cinema’s biggest names – Waheed Murad and Nadeem (Nazir Baig), were good enough to come through the trials, held to pick Lahore teams in the early 1970s.’
‘I was happy to be part of the Imran-Pepsi Clinic in the 1990s that was a great initiative to mobilize the grassroots talent in Pakistan. Whilst working in Sargodha for almost twenty years, I twice accepted the role of a liaison officer, on the request of the cricket Board. I was tailor-made for the assignment and enjoyed my time with the touring West Indies team, who played a three-day match in December 1990 and with the Sri Lankan team that played an ODI in January 1992 – the only one held at the Sports Stadium. This was also Imran Khan’s last series in Pakistan before the 1992 World Cup. I have always held Imran in great esteem and over the years, have been more than happy to contribute in the fund-raising campaigns for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer project.’
West Indies great Malcolm Marshall remarked, KFK left cricket at the age I took up the game. Sri Lanka manager Ranjit Fernando’s words, ‘There were no five-star hotels in Sargodha but Kasim’s excellent management made it into a seven-star hospitality’, was a compliment, Kasim treasures to this day. As he climbed the ladder in his profession, there was less time for the game, though PCB CEO General Tauqir Zia was keen to have Kasim in the Board’s Governing Body.’
‘Whilst based in Lahore, I got the opportunity to mix with the leading showbiz figures and realised there was lot of interest in cricket. I have been part of the management and often made an appearance in the annual match between TV and Film Stars, both at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore and National Stadium, Karachi. My engagement in these matches has certainly brought me in touch with the artists, who I can claim to be good friends. Holding the prestigious position of President of ORA, means there is rarely any evening free but at the same time keeps me connected with friends and old colleagues.’
In October 1997 UBL President Zubair Sumro ordered six thousand employees contract to be terminated which featured 12 cricketers including Sikander Bakht, Haroon Rasheed, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Basit Ali and Tauseef Ahmed. Kasim tried his best to ensure all cricketers were treated fairly and that there was an alternative option for them. Abdu Raqeeb and Iqbal Qasim, retired as Executive Vice President (EVP), whilst serving as sports officer with Habib Bank and National Bank respectively, stood out amongst cricketers of that generations.
‘I owe it to my good friend Nasir Khosa, who was three years senior to me at GC, Lahore, for my choice of statistics and economics, as the two optional subjects. In 1975 (exams), I completed my graduation and within a year was fortunate with an opportunity to step into a banking career, which I did. It was a move that would shape my life and here I am after 45 years. In this period, I have served in senior executive positions in United Bank Ltd, where I left in 1996 whilst serving as Vice-President and Zonal Chief. At Union Bank I was Senior Vice-President till 2006, followed by two years at Standard Chartered. In 2008 I joined Saudi-Pak Commercial Bank, now named Silkbank Ltd. and I presently hold my appointment as one of the directors’
‘Abdul Aleem Khan, one of the senior ministers in the present government and who holds the portfolio of Provincial Minister of Punjab for Food, is a personal friend who has stood with my family in difficult times. I have always admired his energy and commitment and it would not surprise me if he goes on to play a major role in Pakistan politics. He joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in January 2012 and has proved to be one of PM Imran Khan’s trusted appointees in Punjab, having served as President of PTI Lahore. Prior to that, he was one of the biggest donors of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, after showing considerable grit in fighting a serious health battle himself. A very successful business tycoon, he also thrives in the philanthropic role that he has played in establishing Abdul Aleem Khan Foundation, which besides other initiatives features ‘Apna Ghar’ girls-only school project. His rational mind and leadership traits have never been in question and I envisage him as the Chief Minister of Punjab, in the near future.’
Married in 1978 to Nasreen, the couple has been blessed with two daughters and a son, Mohammed Bin Kasim, also a distinguished banker in his own right having worked for ABN AMRO Bank in Dubai and presently showing his entrepreneurial side in property development. One of Kasim’s younger brothers, Mustafa Feroze, also a slow left-arm bowler, made two first-class appearances for Multan.