My dad was not a martyr. I didn’t lose my dad to the country in his death. I lost him to the country in his life. That night, and every day, I stand proud because of that.
Pakistan and India have once again come to the brink of war after the revocation of Kashmir’s special status by the Indian government. This follows the recent tension earlier this year, when Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight over Kashmir on February 27, 2019, a day after Indian jet fighters carried out airstrikes inside Balakot. Pakistani fighters shot down two Indian planes and the nation celebrated the brave pilots of our Air Force whose courage and bravery made the country proud. To me, however, the event was a reminder of the courage and bravery of a hero who attempted a similar feat in the 1971 war — my dad. It took me down the memory lane recalling how celebrating our soldiers in public takes a toll on their families.
My late father, Air Commodore Rashid A Bhatti, had an illustrious career with the Pakistan Air Force. He was selected to be trained with the best fighter pilots in the world in the United States at the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Among his notable honours, he received the prestigious Top Gun recognition from the United States Air Force during his combat training in 1961. He was also inducted in the ‘Order of Star Fighters’ for mac-busting (breaking the sound barrier) while training on F-104s. Later in his life, he proved to be a Top Gun of the Pakistan Air Force as a war hero during the 1971 war.
USAF Top Gun Certificate of Achievement
‘Order of Star Fighters’ proclamation for mac-busting
My dad joined the elite 9th Squadron during his early days in Pakistan Air Force, where he flew F-104s, including the Star Fighter. The 9th Squadron was home to many outstanding pilots such as Air Commodore (retd) MM Alam (Sitara-e-Jurrat), who is credited for shooting down seven Indian planes in one sortie during the 1965 war. More examples include those who later went on to become Chief of Air Staff, such as Air Chief Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, Air Chief Marshal (retd) Jamal Ahmad, Air Chief Marshal (retd) Hakimullah and Air Chief Marshal (retd) Farooq Feroz Khan.
My father’s most cherished memory was being selected for a fly-past in an elite group by the 9th Squadron on March 23, 1965.
The 9th squadron. My father (first from R, sitting) seen with Air Cdre (retd) MM Alam (third from L, standing) and future Air Chief Marshal (retd) Farooq Feroz Khan (second from L, standing)
A photograph of the elite 9th Squadron that did a fly-past on March 23, 1965. My father (second from R) seen with future Chiefs of Air Staff, including Air Chief Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan (sxith from L), Air Chief Marshal (retd) Jamal Ahmad (seventh from L), and Air Chief Marshal (retd) Hakimullah (eighth from L).
My father was a Squadron Leader posted in Sargodha during the 1971 war. He was a part of the team that conducted the first airstrike on the Amritsar radar on December 3, 1971. He also shot down an Indian Su-7 aircraft in one of the dogfights during his war mission. The details of his war mission are documented in the book ‘Story of Pakistan Air Force: A saga of courage and honour‘.
However, what the books of that time and the social media of today’s age does not cover is what goes on in the lives of the families of these soldiers of our nation. Growing up, I did not see my father fly. My mother tells me that he was a man of great taste and always aspired for high standards of what he did in life. She shared stories and photographs of the two of them taking a road-trip across Europe back in the 1960s.
My parents touring Europe, seen here at the leaning tower of Pisa, Italy.
However, my father, in his post-flying career, seemed like a shadow of the father I had seen in pictures and heard about in stories. He was dedicated to his field even after his flying career was officially over. One of his notable later achievements was founding an aviation safety institute at the Pakistan Air Force Masroor Base in Karachi, where they now have a hall named after him. However, his sense of adventure significantly took a back seat with time. Perhaps it was the lack of the adrenaline rush in his later life or the medical or psychological consequences of having actively participated war. I don’t exactly know why and find myself asking this question quite often — more so after losing him last year. All I know is we, as a family, always accepted the downsides in his life to help him achieve the upsides in his career.
Last among my precious memories of him. At the Margalla Hills with my dad, December 2016
I know for a fact that had he been alive, my father must have been nostalgic to see the events of February 27, 2019. He was frequently interviewed by the media and news publications about his experiences of participating in the airstrikes of the 1971 war. That night, I sorely missed his company and the stories he loved to share. Serving his country was his pride and above everything else in his life. Those of us who have not witnessed war in our lives should be grateful to our national heroes who sacrifice everything to protect this country.
In the early hours of the morning of September 6, 1965, Indian forces crossed the international boundary and invaded Pakistan without a formal declaration of war.
For the 17 days that followed, the armies of the two neighbouring countries were locked in a ferocious battle until intervention by the United Nations separated them.
The following rare photographs shed light on the conflict and showcase the glorious spirit of the people of Pakistan and the bravery of its armed forces as it defended the homeland against a significantly more powerful Indian military.
Pakistani troops in action: A dramatic picture of tank infantry assault on the Lahore front.
Major General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, GOC of a division, explains a situation to Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan during one of his visits to the forward areas. Also in the picture are Army C-in-C General Muhammad Musa (extreme left) and C-in-C Pakistan Air Force Air Marshal M. Nur Khan (third from right).
Pakistani soldiers atop captured indian tanks raise slogans of joy.
Khem Kharan, the Indian market town, was the place from where Indian were to launch their thrust on Kasur and then on to Lahore.
Foreign newspaper correspondents on a visit to a Pakistani position in Khem Karan.
An operational tank squadron of the Pakistan Army equipped with the Indian tanks (French-build AMXs) captured in the Chhamb battle, out on manoeuvers.
In clouds of dust, Pakistani tank and infantry soldiers are moving forward to join the action.
Field Marshal Ayub Khan decorates the wife of Major Aziz Bhatti Shaheed with the insignia of Pakistan's highest gallantry award, the Nishan-i-Haider. On her left is Mrs. Shami, wife of A.R. Shami, who was awarded HIlal-i-Jur'at posthumously.
Munabao, the important railway station of Rajasthan, taken by Pakistani forces.
A view of the Kishangarh Fort in Rajasthan. In the foreground, a Pakistani soldier is standing guard over the fort.
Medical and nursing staff was rushed to Pakistan by Iran and Turkey. Picture shows Iranian and Turkish nurses attending wounded pakistani jawans in a military hospital.
Indian prisoners of war cheer their favourites in a legged-race in one of the camp's sports meets.
Pakistani flag flutters over the Rajput fort of Kishengarh in Rajasthan, where Pakistan Army was in occupation of over 1,200 square miles of Indian territory.
President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, meeting with the nursing staff which was rushed to Pakistan by Iran and Turkey.
Longanewala posts occupied by Pakistani Desert Force.
Longanewala posts occupied by Pakistani Desert Force.
Pakistani soldiers on the front lines.
A view of Khananwali. 3 miles north of Chawinda, after the Indian army vacated it. All roofs are missing.
Indian flag being replaced by the Pakistani flag at Jhenger.
Pakistan Buys Russian Kornet-E Anti-tank Guided Missiles
October 8, 2019
Russian Kornet-E Anti tank guided missile (ATGM)
The Pakistan Army has purchased some 52 launchers and an unspecified number of missiles of the Russian Kornet-E anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) for $62.46 million during the 2017-18.
The country’s Directorate General of Defence Purchases ordered Kornet-E anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) for $62.46 million, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production’s (MoDP) yearbook for 2017-2018 states.
The number of missiles ordered was not disclosed but could run into hundreds of units given the value of the deal.
The Kornet-E is a competitor to the US’ Javelin and the Israeli Spike in the global arms market. It has a range between 4500 meters- 5500 meters. It can be deployed by dismounted soldiers as well as on vehicles.
According to information provided by the Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport, the Kornet-E vehicle-mounted/portable anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system is designed to engage current and future tanks fitted with explosive reactive armor, fortifications, hovering helicopters and pinpoint surface targets.
It is not known if the Kornet-E have been deployed by the Pakistan Army. If it has, then it must be on the eastern border with India, as the type of threats (armored vehicles and tanks) it can deal with are not prominent on its western border with Afghanistan.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) met Commander Army General Han Weiguo, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and General Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) at PLA HQ. Regional security environment including situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K) and Pak China defence cooperation were discussed. COAS apprised Chinese military leadership about consequences of the ongoing situation in IOJ&K if it’s not amicably resolved for which India needs to respect UN resolutions and ensure the human rights of Kashmiris.
Chinese military leadership supporting Pakistan’s principled stance on Kashmir issue, appreciated sane Pakistani approach in the interest of peace. They agreed that continued unresolved Pakistan- India tension will have serious implications for peace and stability in the region. COAS apprised them that Pakistan looks forward to peace but that shall not be at the cost of any compromise on principles or honour and dignity of the nation.
Both sides also discussed the developing situation in Gulf and efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
Both sides agreed to enhance existing defence cooperation in line with history of mutual time tested relationship.
Earlier upon arrival at PLA HQ, COAS was presented guard of honour.