Rashid Minhas 45th Martyrdom anniversary: A tale of valour

Rashid Minhas 45th Martyrdom anniversary: A tale of valour
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LAHORE : The 45th martyrdom anniversary of Rashid Minhas is being observed today.

Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas was born on February 17, 1951 at Karachi. Rashid Minhas spent his early childhood in Lahore. Later, the family shifted to Rawalpindi. Minhas had his early education from St Mary's Cambridge School Rawalpindi. Later his family shifted to Karachi.

Minhas was fascinated with aviation history and technology. He used to collect different models of aircraft and jets.

Having joined the air force, Minhas was commissioned on March 13, 1971, in the 51st GD(P) Course. He began training to become a pilot.

On August 20 of that year, in the hour before noon, he was getting ready to take off in a T-33 jet trainer in Karachi, his second solo flight in that type of aircraft. Minhas was taxiing toward the runway when a Bengali instructor pilot, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, signalled him to stop and then climbed into the instructor's seat. The jet took off and turned toward India.

Minhas radioed PAF Base Masroor with the message that he was being hijacked. The air controller requested that he resend his message, and he confirmed the hijacking. Later investigation showed that Rahman intended to defect to India to join his compatriots in the Bangladesh Liberation War, along with the jet trainer.

In the air, Minhas struggled physically to wrest control from Rahman; each man tried to overpower the other through the mechanically linked flight controls. Some 32 miles (51 km) from the Indian border, the jet crashed near Thatta. Both men were killed.

Minhas was posthumously awarded Pakistan's top military honour, the Nishan-E-Haider, and became the youngest man and the only member of the Pakistan Air Force to win the award. After his death, Minhas was honoured as a national hero.

In his memory the Pakistan Air Force base at Kamra was renamed PAF Base Minhas, often called Minhas-Kamra. In Karachi he was honoured by the naming of a main road, Rashid Minhas Road. A two-rupee postage stamp bearing his image was issued by Pakistan Post in December 2003; 500,000 were printed.

Rashid Minhas is the youngest officer who received the Nishan-e-Haider award.

He is the only recipient of the highest honour of gallantry from Pakistan Air Force .

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