KARACHI: The brave Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilots are not the only heroes of the 1965 war being commemorated at the PAF Museum’s Archives Gallery. Their powerful machines, their fighter jets, are also given significance and respect on the occasion of the 57th Defence Day of Pakistan.

There is the single-seat F-86 Sabre in which Air Commodore M.M. Alam shot down five enemy planes in a single sortie gracing the gallery floor.

M.M. Alam was one of Pakistan’s best fighter pilots. He shot down four of the five Indian jets within 30 seconds of his mission on Sept 7. Throughout his career, the pilot downed some nine Indian fighter aircraft and damaged two, a record which remains unbeaten to date. His courage and valour earned him the Sitara-i-Jurat twice.

There is also the F-104 Starfighter that flew a total of 246 hours and 45 minutes during the 1965 Pakistan-India War.

Wing Commander Abhinandan’s uniform and the remains of his MiG 21 are not the only war trophies here. There is also the Indian Air Force (IAF) Gnat that surrendered at Pasrur near Sialkot in 1965 along with a picture and memories of its captured Indian pilot Sqn Ldr Brij Pal Singh, who later rose to be an air marshal in the IAF.

The Indian Gnat was forcibly landed by the Pakistani F-104 Starfighter. It was on Sept 3, 1965 that two Starfighters flown by Flt Lt Hakimullah and Flg Off Abbas Mirza, which took off from Sargodha, intercepted four Indian Gnats of which one was made to surrender.

For the record, to date, India has not a single Pakistani fighter jet to show as their war trophy.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2022

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