There had been many times in Pakistan’s history when stupid decisions were taken by the government. Nationalization in Bhutto’s era was one of those decisions. 22 Families lost everything that they had worked for all their lives. BECO (Batala Engineering Company) is one such example.
Late Chaudhry Mohammad Latif was the founder and chairman of the Batala Engineering Company (BECO). After attending a meeting of leading Muslims in Batala, who wanted to establish Muslim industries in the face of Hindu dominance of retail, that he struck upon the idea of forming BECO.The company was established in 1932. , He sold its first 10 shares to a lime merchant for Rs 10. In the early years, he worked almost single-handedly to build up the company from its first workshop in two rooms and a veranda. Over the course of the next forty years, and in spite of losing much of his business when he migrated to Pakistan at Partition, he built BECO into a stalwart of the engineering industry in Pakistan. when the migration took place and all the muslims came to Pakistan. BECO donated a very large amount of its money to the govt of Pakistan, so the institutions could start functioning.
At its peak BECO employed 6,000 workers producing tools and engines that drove forward Pakistan’s fledgling economy. A model of Pakistani industry and the pride of Pakistan, BECO was a regular stop by visiting foreign dignitaries
Board of Directors (Lto R)
Chaudry Abdul Karim, Arif Latif, CM Latif, Khan Abdul Rehman , HMS Chaudri
Visit by Chinese Prime minister Chou En Lai. He was so impressed by BECO that he vowed to send Chinese engineers there for training.
Visit by Syrian Head Of State
King of Thailand on a visit to BECO during his state visit to Pakistan. Mr. Latif showing him a diesel engine coupled with pump. In those days all visiting head of states were shown BECO as a national asset
Mr. Latif with his team showing slow speed diesel engine parts to visiting dignitries. A lot of these were sent to East Pakistan to drain out water and produce power.
In background is Mr. Schneider BECO’s German works manager and Chief Engineer.
Mr. Latif with visiting KSB pumps director from Germany. BECO produced pumps in collaboration with KSB pumps with Siemens electrical motors in the BECO Kot Lakhpat factory
Visit by Pakistan’s Prime Minister
Being an Engineer Mr. Latif always believed in making progress in development of ideas and technology. In an interview couple of years back he said “I believe in creating money and not in making money.” “We can create money by employing more people and by expanding our business. Money, as such, should have no attraction for any reasonable person. What should really move us is the task of adding to our national wealth.”
Mr. Latif was a man of great genius and dedication . He brought BECO to teh heights of glory. Beco was ahead of its time in terms of technology.
With his team of Japanese engineers
Machine tool division with lathe machines.
Testing the gates for barrages and canals
Machine tools division.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over power on December 21, 1971 and on January 1, 1972 his government promulgated the Nationalization and Economic Reforms Order nationalizing 31 key industrial units, completely wiping out BECO. The company’s name was changed to PECO (Pakistan Engineering Company). Like other nationalised companies, PECO did not cut it and by 1998, it had run up an acknowledged accumulated loss of Rs 761.58 billion. In October 1977, Gen Zia-ul-Haq offered to return control of the company to Mr Latif and his management. Mr Latif refused to accept the offer unless the same were extended to owners of all nationalised industries.
It is such a sad thing that in the name of the country Mr.Bhutto ruined what was something to be proud of as a Pakistani. Had BECO remained with its owners we would have put Tata and Birla to shame. Govt abandoned the factory, sold out tons and tons of steel in the building structer and , and now what is left of it ,is an Industrial graveyard.
abandoned halls in the office at the Badami Bagh location
The desolate time office crumbling with time surround by acres of nothingness. At one point it was responsible for a factory chock a block full of sheds. There was no space to move without encountering a crane, machines, raw materials, spare parts and 3000 workers.
Every single shed was taken apart and all steel used in its construction was sold off made money pocketed. The glorious days pictures show the strength and amount of steel used in the sheds. Thats a gigantic amount of cash ……..
The office at the Badami Bag factory……the only remaining building at the 52 acre unit that was completely covered in production sheds. Wondering why this was also not pulled down. Perhaps not enough steel in the construction to sell
graves haunted by spirits of diesel pumps, machine tools, textile power looms, concrete mixer, diesel engines………………………….
This room was filled with drawing boards jammed next to each other. A place of engineering creativity which now lies in ruin.
If a pillar has huge steel poles then its no surprise the sheds were demolished, scrapped and sold
Foundations of the factory under the grave like mounds………a true industrial graveyard where hope for Pakistan has been buried by greed of political leaders and bureaucrats.
A true industrial graveyard……….. When successive governments failed to run the company the Badami Bagh factory was demolished to the ground. Surprise surprise the aim was to plot it and make into a housing scheme……The family now has a stay order on this, but they often wonder what good is it when everything has been destroyed
As Mr. dadbuoy said in an interview to a loacal newspaper
” Had we gone at the rate of growth during the decade of 1960’s, I reckon we would have definitely been an Asian tiger by now”
Special thanks to Mahbina Waheed for sharing such historical pictures.