LAHORE Aug 20: The 46th Martyrdom anniversary of Rashid Minhas is being observed today (Sunday).
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas was born on February 17, 1951 in 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 by aviation history and technology. He used to collect different models of aircraft and jets.
Having joined the PAF, Minhas was commissioned on March 13, 1971, in the 51st GD(P) Course.
On August 20, 1971, 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 onto 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 as 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.
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