National Hero Rashid Minhas remembered on his death anniversary

Islamabad,  A national hero of Pakistan  Rashid Minhas Shaheed Nishan-e-Haider was remembered on his death anniversary on Tuesday. He was a Pilot Officer in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) during the 1971 Pakistan-India War.

He sacrificed his life on August 20  1971 to save the honour of his beloved motherland and fail the evil designs of the enemy country. Rashid Minhas belonged to a famous Minhas clan of Rajput. He was born in Karachi. From an early age  Minhas was fascinated with aviation history and technology. He used to collect different models of aircraft and jets. He studied from Saint Mary’s Academy  Lalazar and completed his O and A levels at the age of 18. He then attended Karachi University where he studied Military history and Aviation history.

Having joined the air force  he was commissioned on 13 March 1971 in the 51st GD(P) Course; on August 20 of that year  he was getting ready to take off in a T-33 trainer in Karachi when Instructor pilot  Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman  gained his way into the back of the plane. He had been reported to have been watching Minhas closely for many weeks for his being new  young and inexperienced. In mid-air  Rahman knocked Minhas out with the intention of defecting to India to join his compatriots in Bangladesh along with the plane.

In mid-flight Minhas regained consciousness  and realized that his plane was being hijacked. He desperately communicated to the PAF Masroor Base at 11:30 AM  about his hijacking by Rahman. After a tussle between the two pilots  the plane crashed. The precise cause of the plane crash is unknown  except that it was the result of the struggle between Minhas and Rahman. The crash site of the T-33 was later found 40 km from the Indian border.

Once during his training sessions at the Kamra Airbase he was in a test flight when his T-33 started leaking oil and he was instructed to eject and save himself  but Minhas decided that he would not let the plane crash and then very carefully he managed to land the plane back on the airbase.

This act of bravery did not go unnoticed and his commandant gave him a letter of recognition. Rashid was a brilliant student and a brave soldier  and he proved it many times on and off the battlefield. 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. He also became a national hero. The Pakistan Air Force base at Kamra has been renamed in his honour. In Karachi he was honoured by the naming of a main street  Rashid Minhas Road  after him.

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