Pakistan’s National Hero
Rashid Minhas Shaheed – Pakistan’s National Hero was born on February 17, 1951, At Karachi to a Muslim Rajput family. He spent his early childhood in Karachi. Later, The family shifted to Rawalpindi. He had his early education from St Mary’s Cambridge School Rawalpindi. Later his family shifted back to Karachi.
He was fascinated with aviation history and technology. He used to collect different models of aircraft and jets. In 1971, he joined Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur as a Flying Cadet. Having joined the air force, Minhas was commissioned on March 13, 1971, in the 51st GD(P) Course. He began training to become a pilot. On August 20 of that year, in the hour before noon, he was getting ready to take off in a T-33 jet trainer in Karachi, Pakistan.
When a Bengali pilot instructor, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, forced his way into the rear cockpit. In mid-air Rahman knocked Minhas out, seized control of the aircraft and headed towards India.Minhas radioed PAF Base Masroor with the message that he was being hijacked. With just 40 miles of Pakistan territory remaining, Rashid regained consciousness and tried to regain control of his aircraft.
Sacrifice his life for the honour of Pakistan.
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. The young trainee pilot’s entire family attended the funeral, along with senior PAF and other Armed Forces personnel.
Rashid was posthumously awarded Pakistan’s top military honour — The Nishan-i-Haider — announced by then president General Yahya Khan. He became the youngest man and the only member of the Pakistan Air Force to win the award.
Following the death of his son, Abdul Majid Minhas had reportedly said:
“Although the grief of my son’s death is unending, I am proud that he laid down his life for a noble cause and for the integrity and honour of the country and nation”.
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