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Script of Documentary Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan Commander-in-Chief Pakistan Air Force, Islamabad

Hilal-e-Jurat, Hilal-e-Shujat, Sitara-i-Pakistan, Sitara-Quaid-i-Azam



History is made by the individuals who display extraordinary caliber and talents. Malik Nur Khan is one amongst them who will always be remembered for his good works and contributions. He was born on 22nd February, 1923, at Tamman, District Attock. He hails from a family with military traditions, whose elders belonged to the Malik Awan tribe of ancient repute. His father, Malik Mehr Khan was a captain in the Indian Army and served in 20th Lancers. Maternally, the family is related to Malik Ameer Muhammad Khan, the Nawab of Kalabagh.

Nur Khan got his primary education from government middle school Tamman. When he was in fifth class, joined Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College Dehra Dun. Mr. M Hailey, remarked on his forms that it was "An excellent military family from a very military center. The boy has been well educated and is more advanced than many Awans of his age. He is physically fit and should make an officer anyhow, he is the right type".

To satiate his flying urge, Malik Nur Khan learnt flying at Lahore Flying Club Walton at the family expense. On successful completion of flying training, he got his pilot's A-license on Tiger Moth biplane. He was inducted as an Indian Air Force volunteer reserve. In December 1940 he went for air crew training. He was commissioned on 6 January, 1941 as a fighter pilot in the Royal Indian Air Force, at the age of seventeen years ten months only.

After initial training, he flew with RAF instructors on the more powerful Hawker Hart and Audax biplanes. On completion of the course, he earned the honour to be the only student of his course to have achieved "Above Average" assessments from the RAF in armament, gunnery and bombing".

His first operational posting was to No.3 Squadron of the original IAF at Peshawar, where he flew Addaxes and Hawker Harts. In 1942, he underwent instructors' course on Harvards at Ambala, where he while converting on Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers, again proved to be the best gunner. During the following years, he served on the Burma front and also rendered services in Japan with the Commonwealth countries occupying forces.

On partition in 1947, he and Asghar Khan, both opted for Pakista. He was given the command of Air Base Chaklala. In January, 1948, he was sent to London to serve as a Liaison Officer in the Pakistan High Commission. After a brief stay there, he returned to Pakistan and was posted as Commandant of PAF College, Risalpur in September, 1948.

He served as Director of Organization in Air Headquarters from January, 1950 to March, 1951, and remained involved in the induction of aircraft under U.S military aid. His efforts for induction of F-86s instead of F-84s, despite opposition by many and commotion during meetings, he maintained his stance and pursued the procurement of F-86s. During the indo-Pak conflict in 1965, the world witnessed the stunning performance of the aircrew and the aircraft. He commanded Peshawar Station in 1955-56. Having commanded PAF Station Mauripur from 1956 to 1957 and accomplishing the task of converting PAF from piston to Jet-engine aircraft, he served at Air Headquarters before he was appointed as Air Officer Commanding of the first re-organized Operation Group.

When Field Marshal Ayub Khan came into power in 1958, he appointed Air Commodore Nur khan as Managing Director PIA in March, 1959. In February, 1964, he was also appointed Chief Administrator of Civil Aviation and Tourism. He is the one known for his temper for flying and has not only flown fighter aircraft but also tried his hands on civil airliners.

On 23 July 1965, Nur Khan was back to Pakistan Air Force as Commander-in-Chief. He took quick briefs and underwent a conversion on advance jet fighters on the PAF inventory. Being away from fighter cockpit for about six years, he did quick check-outs on T-33, before converting on F-104 the Star fighter. He also flew Sabers and got into the grooves soon.

As PAF Chief, it was his leadership that in 1965 war, he led a small but courageous and well trained air force faced and knocked out three time bigger air force. Each one gave his best during the war. The world saw him, his war strategy and his force that gained air superiority in the first 24 hours. The war ended with lot of success and glory. While expressing his feelings about airman and war, he said, "It was good fortune to have assessed the situation correctly and to have commanded an organization of 100% dedicated pilots, ground crew and technicians', the performance of men was far beyond the expectations".

He made two visits to China for the procurement of F-6s. The first was in Nov, 1965 and second in Dec, 1967. 'Normally PM Chou En Lai did not meet Military Chiefs, but he had liking for Nur Khan and thus graciously had dinner with him. 'F-6s were provided promptly at a crucial juncture almost free of cost, when we were passing through bad times'.

After retirement in July 1969, Air Marshal Nur Khan held various senior administrative posts in the government. The prominent positions include Governor West Pakistan, Chairman PIA, Minister of Labour and Education and head of hockey, Cricket and Squash. He resigned from governorship due to political conflict and disagreements on different issues with the President Yahya Khan. He strongly believed that "The more power demands much more from you; and service to mankind, if on your part lacks, you have failed to discharge your responsibility and you would be held accountable. Justice to masses and sincerity of purpose in your actions must speak for themselves".

He earned lot of military and civil honours. His decorations include Sitara-i-Pakistan, Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam, Hilal-e-Jurat and Hilal-e-Shujat. The King of Jordan awarded him the Order of Istiqlal (2nd Class) and was decorated as Commander of the National Order of the Cedars by the President of Lebanon, besides the award of Grand Officer in the order of Range Nassau with Swords by the Dutch Government.

He is known as a great sports enthusiast. During his times, Cricket, Hockey and Squash flourished in Pakistan. We won the major titles in each of these sports. The recall of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad for the Cricket World Cup, speaks of his foresight that led Pakistan to victory fourteen times.

Malik Nur Khan got married to Begum Furhat in 1952, who joined him to sail in the ship of life, stood shoulder to shoulder through thick and thin, providing care and happiness, bringing up the children in the best possible manner. They are blessed with four children, a son Mansoor Khan and three daughters, Sima Bibi, Nighat Bibi and Faiqa Bibi.