Read what a Pakistani Fighter Pilot wrote to the daughter of Indian Pilot he shot down and the reply
Qais Hussain, a retired Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Officer had reached out to Farida Singh, daughter of the Indian pilot whose plane he had shot down during the 1965 war. This shot down plane was actually of Balwant Rai Mehta, a freedom fighter and who was the then serving chief minister of Gujarat who flew that day from Tata Chemicals, Mithapur to Kutch border between India and Pakistan. It was piloted by Jahangir Engineer, former IAF pilot. Mehta was killed along with his wife, three members of his staff, one journalist and two crew members.
Qais Hussain wrote to her 46 years after the war, after his retirement but said that he still remembered it like it happened just yesterday. This incident had stayed on with him. Read the letter and the reply that had stunned people especially those who claim to respect soldiers but advocate war.
He had written an email dated Aug 5, 2011 to her with the subject “Condolence”
“Dear Mrs. Singh,
I am glad that by now we know about each other and it is no surprise that I am writing to you, thanks to Naushad Patel and Jagan Pillarisetti.
The incident happened 46 years back but it is as fresh in my mind as if it had happened yesterday. The aircraft flown by your father had drifted off course by many a miles and in his search for the destination, he had been going up and down in the border area of Rann of Katchh for quite some time and it made our Radar Controllers uncomfortable. I happened to be strapped up in my aircraft along with another pilot (my Leader) in his, on two minutes take-off alert. We were scrambled but I had to take off alone, and with the help from my radar controller, intercepted your father’s aircraft which was considered to be on a recce mission to open a new war front. I caught sight of him at 3000’ and made a pass so close that I could read his markings and the number of the aircraft. Your father spotted my presence immediately and he started climbing and waggling his wings seeking mercy. Instead of firing at him at first sight, I relayed to my controller that I had intercepted an eight seat transport aircraft (guessing by the four side windows) and wanted further instructions to deal with it. At the same time, I was hoping that I would be called back without firing a shot. There was a lapse of 3 to 4 long minutes before I was given clear orders to shoot the aircraft.
After the shooting, I had a sense of achievement and satisfaction that I had completed my mission and destroyed any recce data that might have been collected to open a new war front. I landed back at Mauripur, Karachi with my fuel tanks bone dry and was greeted by my seniors and other squadron colleagues. Later that evening, All India Radio announced the names of the occupants who had lost their lives in that aircraft.
The reason that I have been trying to get in touch with you since recently is an article by Air Cdre Kaiser Tufail in April 2011, in which he researched the whole incident and came out with his story by interviewing me, the radar controller (a Flying Officer) and his supervisor (a Wing Commander) who took the decision to order the shoot. I have also read numerous versions that appeared in the Indian media at the time, said to be eyewitness accounts from peasants of Mithapur which are unfortunately based on hearsay. Even the findings of an Enquiry Committee constituted by the Indian Government are nowhere near to what actually happened. I was alone at the site of incident while my Leader who took off finally about 6 to 7 minutes after me (due to change of aircraft and a new pilot), was perched at the border at 20,000’ acting as a relay station between me and the controller at Badin. I had lost contact somewhere while descending to 3,000’ and had we not had this aircraft at 20,000’ at the border, I would not have found your father’s aircraft and he would not have lost his life along with all the others. Nonetheless, the unfortunate part in all this is that I had to execute the orders of my controller.
Mrs Singh, I have chosen to go into this detail to tell you that it all happened in the line of duty and it was not governed by the concept that ‘everything is fair in love and war’, the way it has been portrayed by the Indian media due to lack of information. I did not play foul and went by the rules of business but the unfortunate loss of precious lives, no matter how it happens, hurts each human and I am no exception. I feel sorry for you, your family and the other seven families who lost their dearest ones. I feel greatly grieved that you lost your brother Noshir recently. If an opportunity ever arises that I could meet you face to face to condole the death of your father 46 years back I would grab it with both hands. I would highly appreciate if you please convey my feelings to the other members of your family, who were equally hurt by the untimely departure of Jungoo to the next world.
I hope and pray that you and your family stay well
My best regards…
In his letter, Qais had talked about the tragedy of War, the impact that it has on the soldier which the glorification of wars do not permit us to see. He was carrying out the order of the State, just like his Indian counterparts do. Soldiers are not involved in the decision-making even though it is them who suffer. The State and people’s thirst for “revenge” and glorification of war in which they don’t fight decides which he implements. Little do people think about a soldier, his working conditions and physical and mental being while he is alive. Worse happens with the martyred for his marytrdom is used to further glorify war, it is used to drive away attention from the impact that war has on soldiers.
In an interview around this letter, Qais had also said that he supported peace initiatives between India and Pakistan. He wrote, “Aman ki Asha is a good initiative and closer people to people contact can certainly play a great role in bringing the two countries closer too. War is never a solution to anything. The days of Ghaznavis and Baburs are long gone and it is high time that both countries strive for a peaceful co-existence and work on this principle.”
Ms. Farida Singh had replied to him. Her reply was equally stunning.
“Dear Mr. Hussain,
Firstly, thank you for your condolences on the passing away of my brother Noshir.
I am somewhat overwhelmed at receiving this letter, even though I was expecting it as Jagan Pillarisetti had been in touch with me recently on this.
It took courage for you to write this. And for me, too, (I say this humbly) it takes the same to write back. But my father was Courage and Grace at their finest and I now speak on behalf of him, my extraordinary, gracious mother (who survived my father by just 16 years), my late brother Noshir and my elder sister in Canada who is unfortunately legally blind.
Yes, this was the one incident which defined our lives henceforth. But in all the struggles that followed, we never, not for one moment, bore bitterness or hatred for the person who actually pulled the trigger and caused my father’s death.The fact that this all happened in the confusion of a tragic war was never lost to us. We are all pawns in this terrible game of War and Peace.
A little more about my father. An ace pilot if ever there as one. A WWII veteran fighter pilot, a great leader of men, a willing team player, strong in body and spirit. This would have been just the view of an adoring daughter, had it not been reflected by all those fortunate enough to know him. Most of all was the generosity of spirit, and his intuitive understanding of the pain of others. Hence it is now easy for me to reach out my hand to receive your message. This incident is indeed a prime example of what damage strife and mindless battles can drive even good men to do.
Thank you again for your gesture. I know it was not an easy thing for you to do.
In closing, I would like to say that I have no idea as to how your email has made the front page in some prominent dailies here. (Jagan knows how publicity-shy I generally am). A friend told me about it and I then re-checked my inbox and opened your mail this morning, 4 days after you sent it.
However, I am glad that it is now public as it can do nothing but heal wounds, not just on a personal scale but in a much wider arena. And most of all, my father would have liked that it goes towards bringing a spark of forgiveness between our two peoples, who after all were one.
The letter of Ms. Farida Singh, the daughter of the victim, is in line with the letter of her so-called culprit. Like him, she talks about the evilness of war and how soldiers are but victims of the conflict. It is a reply to all those who talk about the family of the deceased soldiers. Martyred soldiers are only used as objects to glorify war further. People ask for revenge and that only consists of killing more soldiers. If one really cares about the soldiers and their families, they should demand the conflict to end and in a more humane way.
Source: These letters have been taken from Beena Sarwar (Aman ki Asha)’s blog https://beenasarwar.com/2011/08/09/pakistani-pilot-writes-after-46-years-to-daughter-of-indian-pilot-he-shot-down/ This story had appeared in many Indian, Pakistani and International newspapers.
Photo Source: Indiatvnews