The Pakistan Army has paid tribute to Rashid Minhas — Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilot officer who embraced martyrdom at the age of 20 during the 1971 war — on his 50th martyrdom anniversary.
Minhas was awarded the Nishan-e-Haider for his bravery and became the youngest PAF officer to receive the highest valour award.
“On 50th Martyrdom anniversary, we remember with reverence, bravery & supreme sacrifice of National Hero Pilot officer Rashid Minhas Shaheed, Nishan-e–Haider,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a tweet late Thursday.
In the line of duty, Minhas lived up to great traditions of PAF defending the motherland, it added.
Born in Karachi on February 17, 1951, Minhas spent his early childhood in Lahore and later shifted to Rawalpindi and then back to Karachi.
Minhas joined the Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur as a flying cadet at the age of 17 and graduated from the academy as a general duty pilot in 1971.
On August 20, 1971, Rashid got ready to take off for his solo flight in a T-33 jet trainer. He started his engines and completed the checks. As Minhas was taxiing towards the runway, his instructor pilot, came on the taxiway and signalled him to stop.
Also read: Rashid Minhas: A hero Pakistan lost 44 years ago today
Thinking that his instructor might want to give some last-minute instructions, Minhas stopped the aircraft. The instructor forced his way into the rear cockpit and seized controls of the aircraft; the jet took off and turned towards India.
Soon the radio at Masroor Control Tower became alive and Minhas informed that he was being hijacked. The air controller requested him to resend his message and confirm that it was a hijacking.
The events that followed later were the tale of great courage and patriotism. In the air, Minhas struggled physically to wrest control; each man tried to overpower the other through technically linked flight controls.
The instructor wanted him to fly to India; however, the determined Rashid was not ready for it. The ferocious struggle continued for minutes and as the aircraft neared the Indian border, Rashid Minhas knew what he was supposed to do.
He knew that the honour of his country was far greater than his life. Some 32 miles (51km) from the Indian border, Rashid Minhas deliberately put the aircraft nose down and that made the jet crashed near Thatta.