Today marks the 49th death anniversary of the youngest “Nishan-e-Haider” recipient, Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas.
Minhas was born on 17th February 1951 and received his early education from Karachi. The gallant son of soil joined the Pakistan Airforce Academy in Risalpur at the age of 17 as a Flying Cadet. He passed out from the academy in 1971 as a General Duty Pilot. He later was posted to PAF base Masroor to perform his duty as a fighter pilot.
Rashid Minhas got into his aircraft on the fateful morning of 20 August and was granted clearance by Air Traffic Controller for take-off. He was preparing his plane for take-off when his trainer Matiur Rehman, the traitor-to-be, signaled a halt to the T-33 Trainer Jet of the young officer.
Matiur Rahman knocked out Minhas in mid-air with the intent of defecting to India. In mid-flight, Rashid Minhas regained awareness and realized his plane was being hijacked. He desperately attempted to communicate about his hijacking by Matiur Rahman to the PAF Masroor Base at 11:30 am. In the end, the plane crashed after a tussle between the two pilots.
The plane was found later 32km away from the Indian border.