A Lucky Pilot - Pakistan Aviation

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Wing Commander Lanky Ahmad passed away on October 12, 2004 at Lahore, Pakistan where he was born in 1924 and is buried in the Pakistan Air Force graveyard located just before the landing strip of the Lahore International Airport runway.

February to March, 1955
State Visits by President Bayar of Turkey and King Hussein of Jordan

1955, was the most momentous and eventful year of my life. I was ADC to three foreign Heads of States, and to General M. Ayub Khan, the Defence Minister and C-in-C Pakistan Army, for the duration of his visit to Turkey to sign the Baghdad Pact. I also got married twice and divorced once in that year.

President and Madam Bayar of Turkey, arrived in Pakistan by his personal 'YACHT' in February on their first State visit. He was assigned Aides from all three Services and a Military Secretary, Brig. Khawaja Wassiud-din, the senior most Army Officer from East Pakistan. Madam Bayar, was accompanied by her gracefully dressed niece. She was also provided a separate Military Secretary, Brigadier Prince Abbasi from Bahawalpur state who later became the Nawab and Governor of the Punjab and an ADC Flt. Lt. Akbar Hussain, the son of Mr. Akhtar Hussain the Defence Secretary. The President and the entourage were flown in a special PIA Super Constellation aircraft to Peshawar and by a special train to Lahore. He was taken to the famous Khyber Pass and was entertained to a garden party, at the Municipal garden of Peshawar. On the way to Landi Kotal, the Turkish Head of State was presented with 2 lambs. To his great relief, they were not supposed to be flown to Turkey as souvenirs from the tribesmen but were to be slaughtered there, once he had touched them. This is a customary tribal offering, which was supposed to bring him good luck and the Allah's blessings.

In Lahore, the guests were shown the Badshahi Mosque, the largest in the world, and the famous Shalimar Garden, where a tea party was given in their honour by the lively people of great city. The following day, a grand Army Parade and an Air Display overwhelmed to entourage by their excellent performances. It was a beautiful sunny and wintery day of Lahore. At night, there was a grand banquet at the Governor's House where my late father was also invited. A fascinating picture of him sitting with the President Bayar and being introduced by his own son, will always be adorned at my house.

In Sind, the party was shown the newly built Ghulam Muhammad Barrage and given a splendid dinner at the Government House Karachi. In those days, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad, the Governor-General was a sick person, he had to be assisted by his two ADC's, as he could barely stand when the National Anthems of two countries were being played. The Naval ADC was the late Commander Mazhar who was also an aide to the Quaid-e-Azam, He unfortunately died in a helicopter crash in early sixties, with his newly wedded wife Salma near Bandung, Indonesia. Captain Zameer of the Army was the other ADC who married the Governor Gurmani's daughter, later became the Military Attache of Pakistan in Egypt and the Chief of Protocol. He eventually retired as an Ambassador to Morocco.

Both the ADC's were conducting the President of Turkey at the dias. I happened to be free at that time and was standing just behind Mr. Iskander Mirza, the Interior Minister and General Ayub Khan, the Defence Minister in the Government House's lawn. I knew both of them quite well, since I had been flying them from the early fifties. After the National Anthem, the former abruptly spoke to the latter. "Don't you think it is a shame that a sick person who can't hardly talk or walk is our Head of State." The seed of Mr. Ghulam Muhammad's downfall was probably sown, in right earnest that evening. After a few months when the Governor-General went out for an evening ride in the open Mercedez car, presented by the King Ibne Saud, was not allowed to enter the Government House. Instead he was taken to him daughter's house at Bath Island.

With the help of his friend General Ayub Khan, Mr. Iskander Mirza took over the reign of power in the country, and both were responsible for making One Unit of the four provinces of West Pakistan. This action was considered necessary to make a parity between the East and West wings of Pakistan. Mr. Iskander Mirza became the first President of Pakistan in 1956 after declaring it into a Republic. The same year the new Constitution was also promulgated. The irony of fate is that he was removed from the Office, by his own friend General Ayub Khan, the Martial Law Administrator in 1958. The General took his action as he thought that the President was involved and responsible for the unrest in the country due to his political intrigues.

Visit of King Hussein of Jordan
The following month King Hussein of Jordan arrived in our country for a week's visit. It was the first visit of this young and handsome King. He could speak and project himself far better than his cousin, the King of Iraq who was shy and not as dynamic and agile as the Hashemite head of State. I was lucky to meet both the Monarchs. He was accompanied by his mother Queen Zain, who was his Mentor, after her husband was declared mentally incapacitated. The King divorced his first wife Dina, from Egypt, a few days before leaving for Pakistan on this visit. His present wife Queen Noor is a daughter of Mr. Hallaby. He was the Administer of Federal Aviation Agency of U.S.A. who presented me a certificate on completion of my course in 1964.

A similar program was repeated in Peshawar and Lahore for the King, as was arranged for the President of Turkey. On his return to Karachi, after the banquet he was taken to Tando Muhammad Adam, by a special train at midnight for a partridge shoot. Muhammad Ali Bogra, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and General Muhammad Ayub Khan also accompanied him. The train was stopped near the game reserve and shooting site in a dense jungle. In two hours, nearly one hundred partridges were shot dead by five to six guns belonging to the Royal party. I was assisting the King as a retainer, with the next loaded Churchil gun. At the tail end of the shoot, when the poachers employed by the game warden were visible, I saw them removing the birds from their bags. They could hardly fly. On seeing this stupid action on their part, the General got annoyed and told one of the police officers to stop this "Tamasha", a nonsense.

To divert the attention of the King and his uncle who was the best shot in the group, he declared the "shoot-closed". The General congratulate them on having a very successful shoot. I don't know whether the guest of honour, actually saw the "poachers" throwing the tired and half dead birds towards the shooters. The King must have sensed and got amused, as to why the birds were not flying with the same speed as before. After having the partridge breakfast on the V.V.I.P train, we returned to Karachi before noon to attend a garden party at the Frere Hall.

Thirteen years later, in 1968, when I was the Airport Manager Karachi, and standing in the Reception line, the King recognised me and asked, "what are you doing in the civilian dress". Before, I could reply, the Chief of Protocol had already introduced me to him.

It was remarkable, for a popular and clever head of Muslim state to remember my face, if not the name, after a long passage of time. For the last forty years I have closely watched his great and admirable life progressed through the media and the name which he was made for his country is remarkable. My greatest desire is to see Jordan and meet the King in his grey hair and beard in which he still looks young and handsome when I was his ADC in 1955.