KARACHI: Pakistani pilot and martyr of 1971 war, Rashid Minhas is being remembered today (Tuesday) on his 43rd death anniversary.
Rashid Minhas was born on 17 February 1951 in Karachi. Rashid Minhas belonged to a famous Minhas clan of Rajput. Minhas was fascinated with aviation history and technology.
During his childhood days, he used to collect different models of aircraft and jets. After schooling, he attended Karachi University where he studied Military history and Aviation history.
He was commissioned as a pilot in the Pakistan Air Force in 1971. Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas was taxiing for takeoff on a routine training flight when an Instructor Pilot forced his way into the rear cockpit, seized control of the aircraft and took off.
When Rashid Minhas realized that the absconding pilot was heading towards India, he tried to regain control of the plane but was unable to do so. Knowing that it meant certain death, he damaged the controls and forced the aircraft to crash thirty-two miles short of the border on 20 August 1971.
Minhas was posthumously awarded Pakistan’s top military honor, 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 honored 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 honored 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.