Pilot officer Rashid Minhas, 1971.
Birth name Rashid Minhas
Place of birth Karachi, Sindh province, West Pakistan
Place of death Thatta, Sindh province, West Pakistan
Service/branch Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1971
Rank Pilot Officer (2nd Lieutenant)
Service number PAF No-5602
Unit No. 2 Squadron Minhas
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Awards Nishan-e-Haider (1971
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas or Rashid Minhas Shaheed, NH, (Urdu: ???? ?????) (February 17, 1951–August 20, 1971) was a Pilot Officer in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) during the 1971 Pakistan-India War. Rashid Minhas, a newly commissioned officer at that time, is the only PAF officer who received the highest valor for his actions. He is also the youngest and short-service officer, belonging to the Pakistan Defense Forces's lead aerial warfare service/branch, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), who received the Nishan-e-Haider in 1971.
Early life and education
Rashid Minhas belonged to a famous Minhas clan of Rajput. Rashid Minhas was born on February 17, 1951 in Karachi. He belonged to a family that had settled in Gurdaspur from Jammu and Kashmir. After the creation of Pakistan the family migrated to Pakistan and lived near Sialkot. Rashid spent his early childhood in Lahore. Later the family shifted to Rawalpindi. Rashid had his early education from St Mary's Cambridge School Rawalpindi. Minhas was fascinated with aviation history and technology. He used to collect different models of aircraft and jets. He studied from Saint Mary's Cambridge School, Murree Road, Rawalpindi and completed his Matriculation at the age of 17. He also attended St Patrick's High School, Karachi and 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 a Bengali 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 the Bangladesh Liberation War, 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 11:30AM, about his hijacking by Rahman.In his last words which is the conversation between Rashid Minhas and control tower, he gave information about the hijack. The crash site of the T-33 was later found 40 km from the Indian border.
Minhas was well-known to his commandants and fellow officer's for his intelligence and Alpha grade record. He completed his O levels at the age of 16 with A grades in all of his subjects. After enrolling in the Air Force, he passed out of the PAF Academy with 3rd position and was awarded the Sword of Honor for his performance. 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 he was given a letter of recognition by his commandant.
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 honored by the naming of a main street, Rashid Minhas Road (Urdu: ?????? ???? ????? ), after him. He is one of the most prominent and honored pilots in Pakistan. He has been honored by the Pakistani Media and numerous documentary dramas and films have been made on him. Since his childhood he used to write in his dairy that "We cannot live forever then why don't we sacrifice ourselves on our dear homeland, yes it is an easy job"