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.

April, 1955
Visit by President Natsir of Egypt and the Bandung Conference

Lt. Col. Gamal Abdul Natsir, the President of Egypt was in Karachi for a three days State visit in April, 1955 on his way to attend the famous Bandung Conference in Indonesia. His entourage consisted of two Ministers Anwar Saadat and Saleh Salem with a few high officials including Mr. Haikel, the editor of the prestigious newspaper "Al-Jamhuriat" and his personal staff. In addition, there were fifteen young Military Security Officers in civilian clothes. It was obvious from their stance and a right hand always in the trousers pocket, that each of them was carrying a revolver. All these security measures were taken to ensure the President's safety because he had recently overthrown General Najib, the head of the Military Junta responsible for the ouster of King Farooq of Egypt. Natsir was warned that on this trip an attempt on his life had been hatched and planned by the opposite group.

When we arrived at the Governor-General's House from the Airport, his Military Secretary Major Ahmed asked me if it was possible to remove temporarily the picture of President Najib from the living room. It was placed amongst the other Heads of States photographs in the gilted frames, at the mantle piece of the fireplace. Mr. Ghulam Muhammad was shortly scheduled to receive Col. Natsir in the same room. I explained my inability to take such an action and informed our Military Secretary who also politely declined that only the Governor-General himself could accede to such a request.

Apart from sightseeing of Karachi, and a visit to the President's mounted Body Guard, there were two State Banquets. One was to be given by the host country and the other from the visiting dignitary. After the first Banquet when returned to the main building, I casually mentioned to the Egyptian Military Secretary that at Bandung, where they were heading, my fiancee also lived there. He asked, whether I would like to accompany them, as the chartered Indian Super-Conny aircraft on which they were flying had plenty of spare seats. I thought, that he was just being polite and diplomatic, reluctantly showed some interest to test his fantastic offer. To my utter surprise, he got up and went to President Natsir's suite, where he was having coffee with his ministers. He came back soon and informed that the President would be happy to take me to Indonesia as his personal guest. Incidentally, Col. Natsir did not indulge in any alcoholic drinks but was a heavy smoker and coffee drinker.

It was eleven o' clock at night, when the Military Secretary asked me if I had my Passport on me. There was only one day left before he could get my visas for India, Burma and Indonesia. In the early morning, I went to Mauripur and brought my passport. Before lunch all the three gratis visas were stamped, through the courtesy of the Egyptian Embassy. I just could not believe how all this could happen so suddenly. My problem was now to get the foreign leave. Luckily, there was another Banquet that evening when I met the C-in-C Air Force, AVM Cannon whom I have been flying and he knew that my fiancee was residing in Bandung. He asked me to call Air Commodore Raza the Chief of Staff who was also present in the party. The C-in-C told him that he had approved my one month's leave abroad, and due to the paucity of time the regularization action should be taken on my return.

The next morning, I was on my way to New Delhi. The moment I saw six PAF Sabre-Jets escorting our aircraft I went to President Natsir and informed him that the formation of aircraft, was in his honour and safety. They would fly with him up to the Indian border. He smiled with his sharp eyes and made me sit next to him and asked a few question as to how did I meet my fiancee. I narrated the story as briefly as possible because I did not want to take too much of his time. We were already flying over the Indian territory, and thought that he might like to see the terrain and countryside.

At Palam Airport, he was received by the Indian Prime Minister. There was no apparent discipline, the journalists and photographers were thronging the aircraft stairs. I saw Mr. Nehru actually using his stick against the unwieldy crowd to find a place for himself. There was no guard of honour as it was not a state visit. We were driven straight to the Rashtra Pati-Bhawan, where President Natsir was going to stay and meet the Indian President Dr. Ranjindra Parshad. There, the Egyptian Military Attache to India, Brigadier Nasir who was also an instructor of Col. Natsir at the Egyptian Military Academy, introduced himself and said, that I was an honoured guest of his President. He asked me, if I would like to stay with the rest of the entourage at the Hyderabad guest house or in a hotel. I left the choice up to him. Luckily, he put me up at the Five Star Ambassador Hotel, next to his house.

After two days I read in the newspaper that Prime Minister Nehru had invited Col. Natsir and his Ministers to travel with him to Bandung in his aircraft. The chartered aircraft was discontinued and ten Security Officers were sent back to Egypt. One morning, while I was sitting in the Military Attache's office, Maulvi Farooq, the Imam of the Srinagar Mosque was trying to get an audience with the President. He brought a copy of the Holy Quran as a gift for him. When he was alone, I acted as an Egyptian and asked him if the plebiscite is held, would the Kashmiris join Pakistan or India. He clearly said, that neither of them as they rather prefer to have an independent state. I told him that it would be difficult to sustain themselves without the financial support of either country. He said that in any case due to the geographical situation of Kashmir, both India and Pakistan were bound to help them. He also added that the strained relations between the two countries would certainly be improved because of the joint meeting grounds for both the people. This was his opinion forty years ago. He has since been murdered in 1990 by the Indian border forces. His son, who resembles him a lot, is not the Chief of All Parties Hurriat Conference, which also stands overtly for self-determination.

The Egyptian Military Attache provided me with a first class return ticket to Bandung and Karachi by the BOAC Airline. After five days stay in New Dehli I was scheduled to leave for Indonesia with the remaining party members. At the airport, when my passport was checked it was found that there was no entry date stamped. The Military Attache had the answer ready, that I was a special guest of the Egyptian President, and had come in his chartered aircraft from Pakistan. There was no entry date stamped I the other Egyptian passports as well. The immigration staff, after getting the clearance from the Foreign Ministry, stamped all the passports for the entry and exit dates accordingly.

In Bandung, the most beautiful city in Indonesia, I was staying with my in-laws. They had a lovely house just in front of the Mardeka (Freedom) Hall where the Bandung Conference was being held. The building looked like the Old Gymkhana Club of Lahore and the garden was similar to the Jinnah Gardens, of course without any mountains in the background. Since my name was included in the entourage list, I was invited to all the social functions. In the last farewell Dinner party at the Mardeka Hall I saw Mr. Nehru strolling, arm in arm, with Mr. U-Nu of Burma, at the same time he was busy talking to Mr. Chou-en-Lai through an interpreter. I noticed, he did not even look once towards the Burmese Prime Minister, who was much shorter in height than the Indian P.M. In order of priority the popular figures in the Conference were the Chinese Prime Minister, President Natsir, Mr. Nehru and President Soekarno. The rating of the Burmese Prime Minister and Mr. Muhammad Ali Bogra was low. Although, the latter had his newly wedded wife from Beirut (Lebanon) present in all the social functions dressed in the exquisite 'Indian Sarees'. However, both the PMs did not standout in the galaxy of great statesmen and heads of States.

I stayed three weeks in Bandung and got married I early May. It was after a long courtship with the girl whom I had met at Bali Island in 1952 while returning from Australia and New Zealand trip. Luckily, the marriage did not last long as she never came to Pakistan. She was the only daughter of her rich parents, who wanted me to leave Pakistan and settle in Indonesia and join the Garuda Airline, if I wanted to continue flying.

The main reason of our marriage breakup was, that Tanneke's parents were mixed Indonesian Dutch, and she was a very good ballet dancer. She knew that her love for ballet would be discouraged in Pakistan and I would have not allowed her to continue her life long ambition. After the divorce, she got married to an Indonesian Army Officer who was posted in the Parague (Czechoslovakia) as Military Attache. She got the opportunity and became an accomplished ballerina. When her husband's tenure was and did not allow her to perform the Ballet in Indonesia. I believe that she is not happily married to a Choreographer and she got her initial training. She has two grown up daughters, who are also following in the footsteps of their mother. The last time I met her was in 1970, on my way to Japan to see the Expo in Osaka. In those days, my friend T. S. Jan was posted as Pakistan Military Attache in Indonesia. We both visited her in Bandung, but the world had changed a lot since 1955.

Thank God, better sense prevailed and the same year after my return from Turkey I got married to a Pakistani girl. She is the mother of our three lovely children, Banker Masood MBA, Dr. Fauzia (Ph.D.) and Engineer Jamil MSc. They were sent for higher education to America when I was the Chief Pilot in Abu Dhabi. All of them are married, and doing well in their professions in that country, although, they miss Pakistan and visit us as often as possible. Their mother and I also meet them separately, whenever we can afford, although we have been divorced for over a decade. Being alone I have now all the time and opportunity to write my memories, play gold and bridge occasionally. I try to keep myself fully occupied with healthy activities like listening to good oriental and western music and the T. V. documentaries and news.

Thank God I have no regrets, guilty conscience and complaint against my ex-spouses.