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PAF: The One and Only Minhas!

“Rashid, have you seen our uncle’s Air Force cap? The elder sister asked it to Rashid Minhas while entering into the room. But the moment, she saw her brother. It was a sheer moment of joy because what she had seen was a true depiction of dream wrapped in the fold of innocence. Minhas was wearing that Air Force cap.He was all happy!And looking himself in the mirrorproudly! Upon seeing his sister.He askedgladly, “Sister! Do I look like an air force pilot? She replied lovingly to his little-cute brother. “Yes! Of course, Rashid you do look like an air force pilot.”

Born on 17th February 1951 in Karachi, Rashid Minhas: PAF Pilot Officer has provenanextremely passionate for flying. He grew up loving the air force, flying, fighter jets’ photos and models. Likewise, the desire for martyrdom was raised with him.This desire reflectedbeautifullyvia the sparkles of his eyes. He exhibited intelligence, maturity and responsibility ahead of his age. Also, his parents observed the distinguished spontaneity in him during conversations with them and siblings.Nevertheless, he was a young boy with purity and goodness. He loved listening music and enjoyed famous contemporary songs played on high volumes. He maintained writing diary entries almost religiously. Simultaneously, he continued to excel in his academics and co-curricular activities at St. Patrick’s High School Karachi.

The family of Minhas shared an interesting event from his childhoodwhen he was 7 or 8 years old. The incident was about meeting of Minhas with the Air Chief MarshalAsghar Khan in the hospital. He was ill and had got hospitalized in the CMH. It was the same time when the President of Pakistan:Major General Iskander Mirzahad also got hospitalized in the same CMH. Therefore, all of the Chiefs had come to meet the President. The Air Chief came too. As soon ashe knew that the Air Chief was in the hospital. He requested his elder cousin for taking him to see the ACM. His cousin carried him in arms and he met the ACM. Minhas was elated, there was then no sign of any illness. He said to his cousin, “One day, I will be the ACM.”

Minhas was definitely an extra ordinary soul. He followed his passion with a true heart. The academic record from school, high school as well the training years at PAF Academies testify his intelligence, dedication and professionalism. He possessed an unbelievable quality of consistency, leadership and determination. He was a highly goal-oriented young boy, if once he had decided to achieve any goal, it was already his! Surprise to many, his father wanted him to be an engineer but Minhas wanted to join the Pakistan Air Force. It caused skirmish for few days between the father and son. Consequently, Minhas took permission from his mother and joined the PAF School in Lower Topa in 1968. Later on, the PAF instructors sent him with remarks like ‘highly recommended’ to the PAF Academy Risalpur. (Now PAF Academy Asghar Khan)

The martyrs live even after their death and Minhasalso materialized this phrase. He had lived a short life of just 20 years but it was all enough to have him won an eternal fame.He got commissioned in 51st GD pilot course.On 20th August 1971, it was his second solo flight.Minhas was in T-33 jet trainer. He was about to take off but his aircraft was highjacked by theinstructor pilot Fl Lt Matir Rehman.

The resistance ofMinhas during the aircraft highjack from 20 August 1971 left the inerasable marks of bravery. To date, there has notbeen such instance of resistance like his. He was all aware of death in the result of crash yet he willingly chose it. The Government of Pakistan awarded him with the highest military medal, Nishan e Haider. It had beenacknowledged in the citation for medal,
“Minhas forced the aircraft to crash in order to prevent Rehman from taking the jet to India.”

 The veteran PAF fighter pilot, Gp. Capt. Cecil Chaudry spearheaded the immediate task for investigating about the August 20th 1971 aircraft highjack. He had written in the report,

“It was clearly evident that Minhas had nose-dived his aircraft in the ground with all the thundering might of his jet as well of himself. Of-course, it had instantly killed Minhas sitting on the front pilot seat. The most amazing feat from this martyr was,he still managed to jettison his enemy sitting in the rear cockpitwhile bringing down the aircraft in a thrilling high speed because the canopy was found missing.Now imagine his incredible strong nerves, when he was calculating everything in that challenging situation with such correctness. All this clearly shows: how impeccable Minhas proved himself! Only Minhas could do it!”

Minhas wasthe one and only of his own kind to have shown such resistance all alone in the air. A bright young pilot, truthfully self-motivated for the flying with a promising future yet he selected to lay down his life for saving the name and honour of country. That little-cute Minhas who stood wearing the air force cap in front of the mirror innocentlywent showing an unbelievable feat of courage in an epic-act of consciousness.Definitely, he hadthoroughly lived and served with his life for the country.

Embracing martyrdom, Minhaspersonified the Iqbal’s concept of ‘Shaheen: Eagle’that represents the courage, grace, dignity and bravery unlike the Kargas: vulture that symbolizes cowardice, cunning and ignobility.The decision of Minhas throwing out Rehman while crashing the aircraftcharacterizes the same exaltedand decorous mind-set presented by Iqbal. It was almost derogatory for him to be accompanied with his envious enemy in those last minutes. He was all prepared, fully aware and had got driven with the Divine Force for leaving an unmatchable martyrdom-legacy. He left for the final abode in the manner that is granted only for the chosen ones. He left way earlier but still thrives in the hundreds-thousands of hearts. True to say, his soul still travels in the clouds.

My love for Rashid Minhas Shaheed and fighter jets have grown up with me since the early years of childhood. Firstly, I always say a deep gratitude to my late father who had bought me a poster of Rashid Minhas Shaheed when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I stuck that poster on the right door of my closet and from there, those sparkling eyes always kept me fascinated. Secondly, living in an area that comes in the direction of PAF Base Faisal-Karachi for its training sorties, has been a reason to hear the thunders of fighter jets frequently. In my school days, these thundering jets held me in a spell bound state. However, with the passage of time, this love continued to getting multiplied. Now, when these fighter jets come tearing through the clouds, these thundersresonate the same thunder of T-33. It feels that the insurmountable spirit of Minhas has got immortaliszed in these thunders for always!

-Asma Ishaq teaches English Language and English Literature to senior classes.
She is also Subject Coordinator-English.

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