LAHORE: The 48th martyrdom anniversary of Nishan-i-Haider recipient Rashid Minhas is being observed today (Tuesday).
Born on February 17 1951, he remains the youngest officer to receive the Nishan-e-Haider award and was the first recipient of the highest honour of gallantry for the Pakistan Air Force.
On August 20, 1971, Rashid an under-training pilot, was taxying T-33 Jet trainer for take-off, when a Bengali pilot instructor, Flight Lieutenant Mataur Rahman, forced his way into the rear cockpit.
In mid-air, Rahman knocked Minhas out, seized control of the aircraft and headed towards India.
With just 40 miles of Pakistan territory remaining, Rashid regained consciousness and tried to regain control of his aircraft.
Failing to do so, he did the only thing within his control to prevent the aircraft from being taken to India.
He forced the plane to crash just 32 miles from the Indian border, deliberately sacrificing his life for the honour of Pakistan.
Rashid was posthumously awarded Pakistan’s top military honour, the Nishan-e-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.