Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas Shaheed recipient of Nishan-e-Haider (17th February, 1951-20th August, 1971) was a pilot in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict.

Rashid Minhas was born in the Minhas clan of Rajput’s in Karachi on 17th February, 1951. He spent his early childhood in Lahore and Rawalpindi. He had his early education from the famous Rawalpindi school St. Mary’s Cambridge School.

He did his intermediate studies from St. Patrick’s High School in Karachi. He later joined Karachi University to study Aviation history and military history.

Later, Rashid Minhas joined Pakistan Air Force and was commissioned on 31st March, 1971. He stood 3rd in his course and was awarded the prestigious ‘Sword of Honor’.

After commissioning, Rashid Minhas was deployed at Karachi with the Pakistan Defence Force’s Lead Aerial Warfare branch. On 20th August, 1971 when he was ready to take off his T-33 trainer plane, his Bengali instructor Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman approached his plane and knocked out Minhas to steal the plane to India.

Pilot Officer Rashid regained consciousness in midflight and released that his instructor plans to steal the plane to India. He informed PAF Masroor about the scenario. While his plane was 40 KMs away from India border, he crashed it to avoid being captured in India.

Rashid Minhas was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider. He is the only person from Pakistan Air Force to receive this award. He is also the youngest person to receive this award.

PAF base Masroor has been named after him. He always used to write in his diary, “We cannot live forever then why don’t we sacrifice ourselves on our dear homeland, yes it is an easy job”. His noble sacrifice will always be remembered by the people of Pakistan.

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