Keeping the spark alive; Uncovering the story of Muhammad Tariq Khan

The feeling of achieving goals and fulfilling dreams is unexplainable, but not everyone can feel it. Chasing dreams is a luxury not many can afford, especially when they are bound by responsibilities. The journey of achieving the goals is challenging and requires undivided focus, dedication, and perseverance. Every year a huge number of people deviate from fulfilling their dreams and passions because of the pressure’s society has imposed on their shoulders

.Similar is the story of Muhammad Tariq Khan – a notable Pakistani sports personality. He has been recognized by several reputable Pakistani sports institutes and platforms for his contribution to badminton.

The epic emigration from Bharatpur to Karachi

The partition of the sub-continent is an unforgettable historical event. Among many who left the Indian land to live in the newly-made Islamic country was Muhammad Tariq Khan. He was born on 14th August 1942, in Bharatpur, India. The decade this badminton champion was born was crucial to the fate of both countries. However, it had been decided that Pakistan would be separated from the Sub-Continent, 14th August 1947, that the momentous decision was made.

It was on Muhammad Tariq Khan's fifth birthday that he crossed borders with his parents Mr. Abdul Hameed Khan and Mrs. Akhtari Begum, and seven siblings. Migration from his born-land Bharatpur to an entirely new place was nothing less than a brutal scary nightmare. Like many others, his family traveled from Bharatpur to Bombay by Freight Train and then from Bombay to Karachi by Ship.

The route from Bharatpur to Agra was very critical and dangerous for migrating Muslims. But the family's journey was safe as Muhammad Tariq Khan's father-in-law Major Kazim Hussain was in charge of the railway station, who helped his and many other families to migrate without much hassle. Major Kazim Hussain ordered the freight trains to travel without stops as rioters could enter and loot and kill people. After the life-threatening migration, the family safely stepped into the new land to start their lives from scratch again. The family initially Karachi then shifted to Rohri, a city in Sindh, after a few months. Tariq Khan recalls his first experience in the newly formed state and states that his family had spent their initial days in a refugee camp. He says that he remembers his mother struggling and running around the refugee camp to fetch kerosene oil that she purchased for three coins to burn light the tents in the camps and cook food for them in the camp.

Discovering his love for Badminton

Despite the traumatizing event that this family witnessed, Muhammad Tariq Khan's childhood had no trace of negativity or depression. He, along with his seven siblings, spent a normal and happy childhood. During school life, Khan developed an interest in playing badminton. His parents always encouraged him to participate in different sports activities. He was 10 when he first played the sport. Unfortunately, the school did not have a coach to mentor his sport, so Khan took it upon himself to self-learn the sport. His persistent attitude and dedication towards playing the sport helped him learned the sport quickly, and soon he became an under 12 Pakistan Champion at the tender age of 10.

Tariq came from a working-class family. So, to help his father with finances, Tariq began working in Rohri Cement Works, a cement factory. To support his siblings and his future studies. But driven by his passion Muhammad Tariq Khan found out ways to watch other players play matches on the badminton court. Not having a coach did not lower his spirits; instead, he was motivated to learn and practice the skill on his own. By watching live matches on the badminton court, he learned various techniques used by experienced players. His inspirations were Mr. Masood Khan and Mr. Irshad Ahmed, both of whom had been Pakistani Badminton Champions.

Tariq's parents had taught him that 'Winning Was Not As Important As Trying Your Best And Displaying A Good Sportsmanship.' Being mindful of such values, Tariq's love and respect for sports grew, and he played it with even more dedication.

Khan practiced badminton by hitting the shuttlecock against the walls of his home. He walked long distances from college to his house to avoid using public transport to save cash to buy shuttlecocks. Seeing his passion for the sport, his family bought him a net, a few wooden rackets, and a pack of shuttles to practice at home.

Tariq often practiced the sport in an open court. As it was difficult to practice in the court and maintain stamina, he went on daily morning sprints by the riverside of River Indus to be fit and become lethal in his sports techniques. Tariq often played with the Khairpur Division Team. His intense practice sessions had made him so skilled that he courageously attacked and played against the top-ranked players. Soon Muhammad Tariq Khan became a known player and Although Khan had a stable and supportive family, he could not take up badminton as a full-time career. Due to responsibilities and typical societal pressures, Muhammad Tariq Khan had to switch his focus to build a long-lasting and stable career.

A successful career transition

After completing his degree in Bachelor of Commerce from Sindh University in1964, he joined the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in 1967. Being a responsible adult, he acknowledged the importance of his duties and performed them with great zeal. Despite his daily office routine, Khan did not leave his passion for sports and played regularly.

Tariq lost his support systems, his parents, in the early 1970s. He was emotionally moved and grieved for a long time. He remembered their struggles in the initial days to provide him and his siblings a safe place to live, eat, and study. He recalled their teachings of never giving up. And so he got motivated to make his passion, badminton, a success.

Tariq had begun playing more frequently now. He often practiced badminton with his two brothers, who were equally as good as him. He also coached his three cousins and guided them with his newly learned techniques. Tariq gave outstanding performances in the in-house matches of PIA by participating in a tournament organized by PIACEU, a club of PIAC. He was recognized by the PIAC Management in 1975 and had been sanctioned two extra increments by the PIAC Management in 1976. It was a great achievement and honorary moment for Tariq as he was the first-person sport in the PIAC history to be receiving two extra increments solely because of his extraordinary performance.

In addition to that, Muhammed Tariq Khan has been recognized by many reputable Pakistani platforms such as the Farhat Nishan Club Rohri for 'Holding Double Grounds' in 1964, Islamia College of Sukkhur as the 'Winner' in 1965, Hyderabad Division Badminton Association as a runner-up in 1965 and Pakistan Gym Khana as the Winner in 1969.

Today Muhammad Tariq Khan resides in Karachi with his large family of six children and eight grandchildren and wife, Mrs. Parveen Tariq. He retired from PIA in August 2002. His personality is inspirational for many young individuals, who can learn from him the art of balancing life pressures and keeping his passion for badminton alive!

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