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Published on 20 Apr 2012 | over 6 years ago

Cecil Chaudhry showed his true colours in the 1965 and 1971 by displaying outstanding professionalism, unflinching devotion and exemplary courage.The services rendered by the legend were beyond the call of normal duty and contributed a significant share towards PAF achieving air superiority during the Indo-Pak war of 1965. He was part of the famous attack formation which was responsible for the destruction of Halwara airfield and the Amritsar radar in 1965 war.In recognition of his meritorious services, he was awarded with Sitara-e-Jurat and Sitara-i-Basalat.

Cecil the hero - April 19, 2012

A great war hero, PAF's Group Captain (retd) Cecil Ch, twice Sitara-e-Jurat and a Sitara-e-Bisalat, passed away the other day. Executive Secretary of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance and a member of the Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission and a leading human rights activist in Pakistan. He decorated as a fighter pilot during the two wars against India, was a key Christian leader who spoke up for minority rights in Pakistan. He was instrumental in securing the recent restoration of the Joint Electoral System (JES) to replace the Separate Electoral System which divided voters into religious groups in a form of 'religious apartheid'. Cecil, who was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan, dedicated his life to the struggle for minority related laws. He was closely involved in the campaign which recently saw Pakistani Christian Ayub Masih released after six years in prison.

Some time back Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry narrated the story of PAF's gallant operation on Halwara led by Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Rafeequi in a program of Defence Day celebrations on PTV. It was to stop Indian attacks on Pakistan soil. Cecil was the only Pakistani pilot who came back alive upon completion of operation and achieving the task to the fullest, whereas our all pilots embraced shahadat, and IAF was not able to use that airfield again to launch any operation during the entire war of 1965. He narrated when they were going to the cockpits, Rafeequi came to him, punched him on the shoulder and said, "I m sorry Cecil....I m leading you to a mission from where we might not return." Cecil said, "I turned my back to him, saluted him and said 'Sir, I love you so much that I can follow you to hell.'" Rafeequi smiled and said, "Your wife will hate me for this." Cecil said, "I laughed and replied 'Sir, you won't be there, I won't be there, who cares".

He was indeed the hero. We owe a lot to him indeed, and to all those like Rafeequi Shaheed like Younus Shaheed and all those who volunteered for that operation from which the chances of return were almost zero, they went like hawks and stormed the Indian Air Force, jolted them and taught them a lesson and laid their life for a safe future of homeland and their people. Sometime I wonder that it's their debt on us, on all of us of all those who deliberately, went to the places where even the death fears to go, with smiles on their faces, fully aware that they will not return, but this will make Pakistan and Pakistanis live a better life.

ALYA ALVI, Rawalpindi
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