The Global Social Network
Pakistan's national hero, Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas Shaheed's 49th martyrdom anniversary is being observed across the country today (Thursday).
Rashid, who was born on February 17 1951, remains the youngest officer to receive the Nishan-e-Haider award.
He belonged to famous Minhas clan of Rajputs. He got his early education from Karachi and at the age of 17, he joined Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur as a Flying Cadet.
In 1971, Rashid graduated from the academy as a general duty pilot and was posted to PAF base Masroor in Karachi's Mauripur area to hone his skills as a fighter pilot. He was commissioned as a pilot in the Pakistan Air Force in 1971.
Minhas spent his early childhood in Lahore. Later, the family shifted to Rawalpindi.
On August 20, 1971, as a pilot still under training, Rashid was taxing out a T-33 Jet trainer for take-off, when a Bengali pilot instructor, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, forced his way into the rear cockpit. In mid-air Rahman knocked Minhas out, controlled over the aircraft and headed towards India.
With just 40 miles of Pakistan territory remaining, Rashid tried to regain control of his jet. Failing to do so, he did the only thing within his control to prevent the aircraft from being taken to India — he forced that plane to crash just 32 miles from the Indian border, deliberately sacrificing his life for the honour of Pakistan.
Rashid was laid to rest on August 21, 1971 with full military honours.
Rashid was awarded Pakistan's top military honour the Nishan-i-Haider announced by then president General Yahya Khan.
Minhas became the youngest man in history and the only member of the Pakistan Air Force to be honored with this award for his valiant feat.
Titled a national hero the Pakistan Air Force base at Kamra was renamed PAF Base, Minhas, often called Minhas Kamra.
On the occasion, paying tribute to bravery and resililence of Rashid Minhas, Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Babar Iftikhar wrote on Twitter, "Today we remember supreme sacrifice of Pilot officer Rashid Minhas Shaheed (Nishan-e -Haider) in the line of duty. Pilot officer Rashid Minhas lived up to great traditions of Pakistan Air Force serving the motherland."