Becoming Pakistan's First Woman Town Planner

By Naheed (Waheed) Ghazanfar (C69)

Naheed (Waheed) Ghazanfar, 2013

The best era of a person's life is student life, when we are not worried about anything but learning and making innocent mistakes, especially in early youth. After joining engineering college almost every one's career dream is to be an engineer. To me engineering is was quite quantitative, hardly any social sector with the exception of self-socializing in the canteen, union office or sitting on the back of cement benches in the famous lovers lane.

In the final year we studied Architecture and Town Planning, our teacher was famous architect of Karachi Humayun Soomji. I liked the History of Architecture and Town Planning, and was always full of questions about city planning. Soomji, did not appreciate too many questions and always said you can ask later or after the class. Once I was full of questions about car parking with the buildings and asked why did we need so many car parking spaces. He turned around and said: "You never know. May be one day the cars will be sold for Rs. 10 each and every one will have a car, streets will be full of cars, so we will need one car park per household". Then he turned around and said: "Naheed, you will only practice engineering. You can never be a Town Planner. So stop spending too much time asking questions".

This was a tickler for me and I decided to go for City and Regional Planning. My first job after graduation was Assistant Town Planner Control in KDA, and then I worked as a junior planner with Ahmed Ali and PADCO, a US-based firm on Karachi Master Plan. Later I did my Master's from Cornell in City and Regional Planning. This is how I became the first Woman Engineer Planner of Pakistan. Today I am proud of being a successful Engineer Planner. Thanks to Humayun Soomji, who challenged me, and helped me carve my career.