The story of a Club


Chenab, and its rich history


The word ‘club’ signifies ‘a group of people who meet together regularly for a particular activity, sport, etc.’ With the import of coffee into England from Turkey (1652),  coffee houses gradually became meeting points for social gossip, for men of common taste that over a passage of time converted to clubs of different denominations.

Social activities (which also embrace the cultural) clubs are stated to be ‘a modern combination of several types of clubs and reflect today’s more eclectic and varied society’. These clubs focus on the activities available to their members on the sites where they are located. The activities common to such clubs are sports, social parties, musical concerts, and cultural events like art and craft exhibitions, book launchings, fashion shows, and poetic recitals. Most clubs have limited their membership and restricted the events to members with a view to increasing their sense of security as also camaraderie.

There are a number of social and country clubs in Pakistan of which some were founded in the British era while the others have conformed to the tradition historically associated with the clubs. They include Islamabad Club, Rawalpindi Gymkhana Club, Lahore Gymkhana Club, Lahore Garrison Golf and Country Club, Lahore Defence Club, The Chenab Club Faisalabad, Services Club Sialkot, Services Club Multan, Sahiwal Club, Sind Club Karachi, Karachi Gymkhana Club, Defence Authority Country and Golf Club Karachi, Peshawar Club, Abbottabad Club, and Quetta Club.

Chenab Club1

The Chenab Club Faisalabad is one of the oldest clubs in the country. It was conceived and founded by deputy commissioner M.W. Douglas (a serviceman seconded to the Indian Civil Service), on a 72-kanal parcel of land adjoining the Company Garden (now Bagh-e-Jinnah) in the heart of the city, in the year 1910. He was also its first president.

There are two distinct epochs in the history of the club viz., the pre-Partition (1910-47) and the post-Partition (1947-todate). Irrespective of this division, it has always been a centre of gravitation for a variety of social, cultural, sports and other recreational activities in town. Up to the year 1942, membership of the club was restricted to the white members from the civil service whereafter native elite too began to be inducted into the club. Golf, polo, ballroom dancing, and bar were deleted from the charter of its activities soon after the Independence. In 1966, an English bulletin titled Chenab Chatter, covering the whole range of club engagements, saw its maiden publication. By the 1960’s, literary gatherings, poetic recitals, musical concerts, and intellectual moots became the generic components of club programmes aside from sports, exhibitions, and indoor chatting.

In the course of time club membership, numbering around 2700, has assumed a distinctive group character with major groups being those of businessmen, doctors, teachers, lawyers, intellectuals and government officials. Pot-luck, later substituted by tambola, and film shows came to be organized in the club with greater frequency. Upgradation of the library and emergence of the Chenab Forum were two marked events in the 1990’s.

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, former British High Commissioner in Pakistan, a descendant of Sir James Broadwood Lyall (1837-1916), lieutenant-governor of the Punjab and the first VC of the Punjab University, to whom the then tehsil (1896) of Lyallpur owed its name, inaugurated the Lyallpur Hall at the Chenab Club in 2003. He was also granted honorary membership of the club on this historic occasion. Another significant event was a re-union of the old presidents and secretaries of the club organized by the management in 2003. Late Prof. Ishfaq Bokhari’s The Chenab Club – A History of its Culture is a recent publication of the Club highlighting its history and related aspects.

The Chenab Club Faisalabad has thus come to stay as an authentic emblem of communal integration besides upholding the rich socio-cultural traditions of the Rachna Doab, its geophysical reference.

The club celebrated its centenary in 2010 by holding a series of events like sports, a grand mushaira, quiz programmes for children, food mela, and Meena Bazaar etc.

And now some interesting historical facts about the club! Its record shows that DC Ram Chandra (1917) was its first native Hindu member whereas DC Malik Muhammad Hayat Khan Noon (1929) was its first native Muslim member. Lt. Col. (Retd)  Gul Sher KhanNoon (1944) was the only non-official president of the club. Besides its founder and the afore-mentioned three gentlemen, some other eminent presidents of the club include names of CV Salisbury, AWM Jesson, KB Sheikh Noor Muhammad, J. Ortcheson, AD Arshad, Shafi-ul-Azam, Mian M. Yusuf Saigol, Syed Qasim Rizvi, Malik Karam Dad Khan, Masood Mufti, Farid-ud-Din Ahmad, Ch. Abdul Waheed, Sami Saeed, Nasir Mahmood Khosa, Saeed Iqbal Wahla, and Noor-ul-Amin Mengal.

It would also be interesting to recall names of some prominent persons on the club roll. They are Lala Murli Dhar Shad and Khan Ahmad Islam Khan of The Lyallpur Cotton Mills, Mehr Muhammad Sadiq, Makhdoom Syed Nazar Hussain Shah, Ch. Azizuddin,  Prof. Hashmat Khan, Ch. Ali Akbar, Shakil Ahmad Khan, Maqsood Elahi Arshad, Mian Maudood Akbar, Ejaz Kunwar Raja, Afzal Ahsan Randhawa, Ch. Sher Ali, Rana Sanaullah Khan, Haji Bashir Ahmad, Prof. Ishfaq Bokhari, Rana Muhammad Nawaz Khan, Kh. Abdullah, Raja Riaz Ahmad, Mian Muhammad Latif, Altaf Salim, Sh. Mukhtar Ahmad, Mian Muhammad Hanif, Dr. Maqbool Akhtar, Prof. Ghulam Rasool Tanvir, Dr. Riaz Majeed, Siddiq Nasim Chaudhry, Sh. Nasim Shaukat Akhgar, Muhammad Idrees, Saeed Ajmal, Muhammad Asif, and many others.

Chenab Club

Secretaryship of the club is a coveted position. Important names on this list are: Dr. Dilip Singh, Lala Murli Dhar Shad, HL Dunlop, Mian Fazal Ahmad, Mian Waheed Akhtar, Ch. Irshad Muhammad Khan, Dr. Riaz Ahmad Khan, Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan, Mian Muhammad Adrees, Muhammad Islam Sheikh, Dr. Zafarullah Salimi, Dr. Qaiser Mahmood, and Dr. Syed Ejaz Hussain.  Late Shah Muhammad was the oldest employee of the club who served here as office worker from 1947 to 2013.

The club could also boast of the presence of celebrities like Jigar Moradabadi, Josh Maleehabadi, Hafeez Jalandhari, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Nasir Kazmi, Qateel Shifai, Ahmad Faraz, Anwar Masood, Munnoo Bhai, Shahzad Ahmad, Iftikhar Arif, Abeer Abuzari, Parvin Shakir, Kishwar Naheed, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parvin, Farida Khanum, Iqbal Bano, Arif Lohar, Ataullah Eisa Khelvi, Qur’atul Ain Haider, Abdullah Hussain, Zia Mohyuddin, Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi, Prof. Ahmad Rafiq Akhtar, Abdullah Malik, Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Athar Shah Khan Jaidi, Ayaz Ameer, and Abdul Rauf Roofi, at different points of time.

The Chenab Club Faisalabad has thus come to stay as an authentic emblem of communal integration besides upholding the rich socio-cultural traditions of the Rachna Doab, its geophysical reference.