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On August 20, 1971, Minhas touched the heights of glory

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KARACHI: On this day, Pakistan’s national hero, Rashid Minhas became the youngest officer to receive the ‘Nishan-e-Haider’ award and was the first recipient of the highest honour of courage for the Pakistan Air Force.

Born on February 17, 1951, in Karachi, Minhas received his education from Rawalpindi and Karachi.

He joined Pakistan Air Force in the year 1968 and graduated successfully from PAF Academy. Minhas was later commissioned as a pilot in PAF in 1971.

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On August 20, 1971, as an under training pilot, Rashid was taxing a jet trainer for take-off on a routine flight, when an instructor pilot, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, forced his way into the rear cockpit, seized control of the aircraft and took off.

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Minhas was realising that the instructor was heading towards India and so he tried to get the control of the aircraft back but he was young and inexperienced as compared to the superior skill and experience of the intruding pilot.

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With only 40 miles away from Indian territory, Minhas tried to regain control of his jet again. Failing to do so, he aimed for doing one thing that was in his control, to prevent the aircraft from being taken to India at any cost.

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He interfered with the controls leaving the instructor pilot helpless and forced the aircraft to crash just 32 miles short of the border, sacrificing his life for the honour of Pakistan

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Minhas – the pride of Pakistan – was laid to rest on August 21, 1971, with full military honours. The then president General Yahya Khan awarded Pakistan’s top military honour – the Nishan-e-Haider to him.

On Saturday, Pakistanis world over remembered him with special tributes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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