Q.1. Bilal tell us about your childhood?
I had been an above average student in my earlier days but it was only after
I entered high school I started making some good progress. In academics I
used to be always in first three positions and in 8th class was
declared the best student of the school by scoring maximum marks in any
class. I was born in Islamabad and have spent all my early years in
Q.2. Have you been outside Islamabad during
your early childhood?
Yes but only after I achieved the status of World’s Youngest MCSE, I had
some opportunities to go out of Islamabad when I was called by International
Rotary Club for an achievement award in Karachi. I also had a chance to
visit UK and have had an opportunity of visiting offices of some major IT
Businesses in the UK.
Q.3. Tell us something about your family?
My father was Assistant Director in CDA, now retired. My mother manages our
home and does it pretty well. I am the youngest in the family of two
brothers and three sisters. My brother is the eldest and I am the youngest.
My brother was in Army and has recently got his release from Army at the
rank of Major.
He had been involved in a number of IT initiatives within Army and at
national level for last 17 years and was one of the founding members and a
technical lead in the establishment of National Database and Registration
Authority (NADRA) in Pakistan. My eldest sister is MA (Islamic Studies) and
is a school teacher. Second sister is in final year at Rawalpindi Medical
College. Third and youngest sister is in 2nd year Architectural
Engineering at University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore.
Q.4. So you are the kid brother to all?
Yes, I am and that’s probably why I received the maximum share of love from
all my family members.
Q.5 What is your brother doing after released
from the Army?
He is thinking of setting up his own software house and is on the visiting
faculty of a number of Universities like NUST, Hamdard, APCOMS, PIMSAT and
Fatima Jinnah Women University.
Q.6. Tell us something about your parents?
My father is retired and live in Lahore. My mother manages the house and my
elder brother is our Guardian for all practical purposes.
Q.7. Tell us something about your primary
My primary education was pretty normal and I did not go to some very
expensive schools. I studied in Federal Government schools but I think the
standard of Government schools in capital is much better than in any other
Q.8. Where did you start your schooling?
I started my schooling very near to my place of residence that is in F-10/2.
The school has now been upgraded and is now known as Islamabad Model College
for Girls F-10/2. After my primary school I spent 5 years in Islamabad Model
College for Boys F-7/3 for Grades 5-10. Now-a-days I am studying in 11th
Grade or 1st Year FSc at Bahria College, Islamabad
Q.9 When you were first introduced to a PC?
I was about 5 or 6 when I first started playing around with a keyboard.
Though it was only small little games with which I used to be involved in
but that provided me a good basis and interest in this fascinating piece of
equipment. Well, getting my way with computers was a fascination I always
had as soon as I had sense enough to understand what my elder brother was
Q-10 Did you have a PC at home or you were
introduced at school?
How much time you used to spend on PC before the certification and how much
time do you spend now.
My brother, who is an Army Officer, always had a computer at home. He always
asked me to learn more than games but I was kind of afraid to do anything
else with his computer lest I would harm it in any way. It was not earlier
than when I was 9 or
10 when I actively got involved with the real computing.
I think I spend all my available time with my computer. If I am not
at school or sleeping, you can find me hooked to my computer. I now have a
dedicated computer all to myself with all the possible accessories I ever
Q.11 Did the interest in computers affect your
No, not at all. I rather think it further enhanced my interest in studies
and kind of polished my brain cells to be more active and logical. As soon
as I started making my achievements in the field of computing, my results at
school started improving mysteriously. I was declare the best student when I
was in 8th class and that was the time I was spending almost all my time
Q.12. How did you develop interest in computers
at such a tender age?
My brother who was running a free hobbyist Bulletin Board Service by the
name of CompuCraze BBS had to leave for Quetta on posting and I had his
online BBS server all to myself. Though I was instructed never to bother BBS
users but I kept interfering them for a chat often. I started learning small
little things from them and kept exploring the system. I was soon in shape
to handle all the functions of the BBS all by myself as a System
Operator (sysop) that means by then I had almost full command over DOS and
the BBS administrative software which was much like UNIX. As soon as
Internet access was available, my brother got me the access and I had been a
part of all internet activity generating from Pakistan. I had been an active
programmer at KKMOO of PTC, kept running my BBS and started running my own
MOO by the name CompuCraze MOO hosted in USA. Soon the server hosting my MOO
asked me to place my own server on their network as the MOO was attracting a
lot of traffic. About five years back, I bought a PC on Electronic Auction
from USA, paid through my brother’s credit card and got it delivered to my
hosting service. I had the unique experience of installing and setting up my
own server in Illinois USA, sitting right from my home in Islamabad. Since
then I am managing it and it’s running smoothly on LINUX.
Q.13 Did you get full support from your family
and teachers in learning Computers?
Yes, Of course, I could not have done anything if they did not support me. I
was always encouraged by my family and specially by my brother. It was
probably my brother’s guidance which got me through all these landmark
achievements. As far as school is concerned, I think I did not get much of
encouragement from there. They were blind to the achievements I was making
and once my principal called me to brief him what was all this I was doing
and making the news in papers.
Q14. How did you come to know about all
certificates of Microsoft which you have done?
Looks odd to mention my brother in every answer but it was he who guided me
about all the certification exams. Later I started exploring other
certification by myself and started appearing in further exams, but only
after I have taken suggestion from my elder brother.
Q.15 What inspired you to go for MCSE
certification at this age?
The decision to go for MCSE came just out of the blue. I never planned to do
it but I was deeply involved with computers all these years. In my summer
vacations of 9th class, my brother decided to go for it and asked
me and my sister who was then in FSc 2nd year if we were
interested. I was more than interested and immediately consented to attend
the classes and we got admission in National Institute of Computer Studies (NICS)
When the course started, the first subject was Networking Essentials which
fascinated me more than anything. Soon I realized that I could understand
everything all by myself by reading the original Microsoft books and
material provided by the institute. After hardly a month’s tuition, I and my
brother appeared in the first paper and cleared it with flying colors.
We became confident enough and left attending the classes. Within next 25
days, e both cleared all the six papers of MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems
Engineer). Not only this we appeared and cleared two papers for A+ Hardware
Technician Certification, Network + Certification and additive MCSE+I
(Internet Specialist) Certification. I later did a number of other
certifications and I have the honor of being the youngest in the world and
also the only person from Pakistan to hold many of those certifications.
That includes CIW tracks for which I am also a CIW Certified Instructor. I
forgot to mention that I am also a MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer), again
the world’s youngest. Later on, I also upgraded the status of my MCSE to the
latest track which is MCSE 2000.
Q.16 Before we talk about all other certification
just tell us about all these certification and what are they all about?
Well, each of the certification has its own area of expertise and an
objective. For example MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) teaches
you to effectively design and implement Microsoft Windows systems in
corporate environment. A MCSE can not only administer a large network but
can design and troubleshoot as well. The latest track of MCSE i.e., 2000
gives the required knowledge on Microsoft Windows 2000 Platform.
MCDBA (Microsoft Certified Database Administrator) is a certification for MS
SQL and teaches us skills to install, manage, administer and design
databases in MS SQL. Some of the subjects of these two certifications are
common and therefore after MCSE, I only had to do two papers to be certified
as a MCDBA. MCT is Microsoft Certified Trainer. Once Microsoft tests the
teaching skills of an applicant and finds them fit to impart teaching
Microsoft Certification subjects on their behalf, they award the status of
MCT to that person. CompTIA certifications which I have achieved are A+,
Network+, i-Net+ and Linux+. They focus at technician level of training in
the respective areas of Computer hardware, Networking, Internetworking and
Linux Administration. CIW stands for Certified Internet Webmaster and I did
a number of tracks by CIW like Administrator, Designer and Instructor and
after having done all this, I was awarded the status of CIW Associate, CIW
Professional, Master CIW Administrator, Master CIW Designer and CIW
Certified Instructor. I am probably the only certified trainer of CIW in
Pakistan. Then in the line Cisco certifications, CCNA (Cisco Certified
Networking Associate) is the first and basic certification which I have done
and there is a long way to become a CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetworking
Q.17 Is it too expensive to do all these
certification in Pakistan?
Yes, it is definitely expensive to do all these certifications but as
compared to the same standard of education anywhere else in the world,
Pakistan is a heaven. The certification exam cost for Microsoft is
considerably cheaper in Pakistan which was raised from $25 per paper to $50
recently, still less than international rate of $150 which was earlier $100.
Other certifications have 2-7 papers for each certification costing around
$100 to $175 (no rebates) per paper. The training in Pakistan is also very
cheap as anyone now can get tuition for MCSE for as low as Rs. 12,000/- for
all 7 subjects. I had the advantage of never having to take tuitions as I do
all of it by myself at home. Collectively I have spent over $5,000 in last
3-4 years in securing all these certifications.
Q.18. Did you know at the time you took your
examination that you are the youngest to take the MCSE examination?
No, I never knew that and was only made aware of this thing when someone
indicated to me that I might be the youngest. Then I started searching over
the internet and traced the earlier record holder who was a Russian boy and
was older than me when he completed his MCSE. I reported my Achievement to
Microsoft and Guinness Book of World Records but none of them is ready to
highlight any achievement made by a Pakistani. They made quite a story of
the two Indian girls of age 11 and 12 respectively who had just cleared one
single paper of MCSE. This is what I call bias attitude.
Q.19. What was your feeling when your result
announced and you come to know about this great achievement?
Microsoft does not bother who is the person who has cleared a specific exam
and they do not even want to recognize that I am the youngest MCSE on
record. My feeling was of great satisfaction and I was prompted by this
success to do more than this.
Q20 What did you do after becoming the
youngest MCSE? Are you planning on taking examination for other
I did take a number of other certification exams and hold more than 16
certifications right now out of which I am World’s Youngest to hold many of
them. It is also an honor for me to be the only certified person in Pakistan
to hold certifications like Linux+ and others. I always remain on a watch
out for any new certification being announced and immediately start
preparing for it. I did not very much pursue Cisco Certification track
further than CCNA but it is my cherished dream to someday achieve the
highest level of Cisco Certification and that is CCIE.
I was thinking of going for MCSD and CCIE but have pended that goal for some
time. I intend and I can do a lot many more such certifications but I have
naturally spent a fortune in doing what all I have so far achieved and do
not feel justified in getting my guardians money spent like that. I think
this is high time when Government of Pakistan should recognize my talent and
take over all my educational expenses as a special case.
Q.21 What grade were you in school when you did
your MCSE certification?
I was in 9th Class/Grade when I did my MCSE. Then I was one of the first
people who upgraded their status to MCSE2000 by re-appearing in all exams
for which Microsoft has issued me an Early MCSE 2000 Achiever Wallet Card.
Q.22. Did Microsoft announced this worldwide
about you being the youngest MCSE achiever? If yes, do tell us the link.
No, they did not but this achievement of mine is advertised by a number of
third parties all over the web. I will not give you a link, just search my
name over the Internet on any search engine and you will find many newspaper
and sites recognizing my achievement. Microsoft never did because according
to them, they don’t have age records of the people.
Q.23. How do your friends at college react to
the fame that you got, any appreciation from them or from school?
Not very excited but they look at me with amazement. It was hard for them to
grasp what I have really done and they probably cannot imagine the intensity
of my achievement. Now I am in Bahria College and I think it is much better
and technical oriented. Other than school I am well-received where some
computer professionals are there to appreciate what I have done. I am now
treated as an elder and computer professionals treat me as one of them. I
like to get involved in a serious installation or setup problems. I am
currently helping my brother and his colleagues in getting their web sites
hosted on my server. I am also occasionally consulted by training institutes
and network businesses for networking problems.
Q.24 Did the fame affect your studies or your
daily life in any respect?
No, I rather enhanced my quality of life.
Q.25. Did you start working in any respect after
completing this MCSE Certificate?
Not in the sense of being paid for what all I have been doing. I had been an
observing consultant with NADRA where my brother used to work. They never
paid me anything but I advised them on their LAN and WAN installations.
Using the status of my MCT and CIW Instructor, I have been teaching in a
number of training institutes teaching MCSE and CIW classes but as my
brother advised me, I never asked for any payments. He thinks I should only
enter my practical and professional life formally after having completed my
Q.26. What are the other certifications in
addition to MCSE you have completed?
As I said earlier that currently I hold more than sixteen certifications now
namely MCP, MCP+I, MCDBA, MCSE(2000), MCSE+I, MCT, A+ and Network+, i-Net+,
Linux+, CCNA, CIW Associate, CIW Professional, Master CIW Designer, Master
CIW Administrator, CIW Certified Instructor and some e-Certifications from
Q.27 What interests you the most on the
Internet and how do you use it to your advantage?
I believe, Internet is a whole new world and you find something new everyday
to entice you further into it. I am in love with anything concerning
networking and I am hooked to Wide Area Networks. Trying to learn anything
and everything about it. I want to enter the grand new world of networking.
As I described earlier, I have my own server in Chicago and I keep
administering it from here. I sometimes make some money when a client wants
his web site hosted on my server but naturally that is not my prime aim.
Q.28. What plans do you have for future?
I want to be a professional engineer. I am inclined towards electronics or
telecommunications because I know either of these fields will keep an option
for me to specialize in computers. My ultimate aim to do is Doctorate in
some networking area of information technology. The new emerging sciences
are indicating an era of wireless networking and I am very much interested
Q.29. Is your family financially supportive so that you can
continue your education?
So far my brother has supported me through all these certifications and is
still affording my study expenses but I am not sure if he can support me if
I need to continue my education in some foreign university or a renowned
university even within Pakistan like NUST, LUMS or GIK. It is so strange to
learn that Government of Pakistan is completely blind to local talent and
there is not a single soul who has ever uttered an encouraging word on my
achievements. I have written to President of Pakistan, Minister for Science
and Technology, Minister for Education and many others but the only response
I got was from Member IT who said he had no such program to support me. I am
very cynical about it and I know if I were born in another country and had
achieved so much, the Government of that country would have taken up all
responsibility of my educational expenses. I don’t want to say that but I
really feel unlucky to be a Pakistani, it is frustrating here.
Q.30 Did you receive any appreciation or
financial or any assistance from Ministry of IT government of Pakistan?
NONE, whatsoever. Government of Pakistan is probably too busy to be bothered
by small timers like me. There had been large news from India about two
girls of age 11 and 12 respectively having done only a MCP paper and
Microsoft representative flying down to India and awarding them the
certifications. Alas! Neither Microsoft nor our own Government bothers what
goes on in Pakistan. I was introduced to Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister Planning
Commission with last Government, when I established this record, and he had
nothing more to say to me than a few nice remarks. I approached almost every
responsible person of the present Government from the President of Pakistan
to Ministers for Science and Technology, Education and Interior, but nobody
seems to acknowledge my achievements.
Q31. Do you take part in any sport? How you
manage your time between studies, friendships and other activities.
I am not really very active in sports but like to play football and
badminton. I have a number of friends but I am not in habit of going out
very often. Once in a week, we have a lunch or dinner out and we discuss
things. I think I have more mature friends and nothing about us is childish
now. I take active part in small little responsibilities at home. I, being
the youngest, am always the one who ends up doing one chore or the other. I
think I have no problems with managing my time, I follow a set timetable and
I know when to do what. I therefore do not end up missing out on anything
Which third parties have acknowledged your claim or published about it?
When I first established the record of being the World’s Youngest MCSE, the
Test Administrator of Testing Center reported about it to some news agency
after which I have been interviewed by the following:
The Daily Jang
Voice of Germany
@Internet Computer Magazine
NetMag Computer Magazine·
Spider Computer Magazine
Apart from these interviews, some people posted messages on several
newsgroups about this claim to know about any disagreements from public
which are not so far submitted. Some online newspapers have also
published about my achievement including Islamic Voice, Pakistan Nation and
some Indian Newspapers.
I have also asked for some type of rebate on certification exams from
several certification companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Novell etc on the
basis of my achievement. Unfortunately, Microsoft refused to provide any
help saying that they don’t keep the age records but Cisco and Novell did
provide me with support like Free Courseware and Free Exam Vouchers for
Q.33. What message do you want for young CP
viewer who would like to follow your footstep?
Yes! Of course. I would like to advice my colleagues, friends and the youth
of my beloved country that nothing in this world is impossible. If you have
a will, you definitely can do it and I am a live example for you all. Doing
something on computers is like inventing something new and the sense of
achievement is similarly great. Whether you program or design systems, it’s
always something new you are learning. The coming ages will be so fast and
advanced that keeping pace with them would be difficult, we have to prepare
ourselves for the coming ages now or never. Second thing I will like to tell
them is never to depend on anyone, find your own way out.
March 21, 2002
0245 Hours SST