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.

Short Notes on a few V.I.Ps. Visits to Pakistan

February 1961 - Visit by Queen Elizabeth-II And Duke of Edinburgh

It was the first official visit of the Queen of England and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh in Pakistan. They were flown to Lahore to see the historical city. At the Airport my son Masood and daughter Fauzia were present to give flower bouquets to their majesties. Next day the Royal couple was the guest of honour at a dinner given by the C-in-C PAF at Peshawar Air Base. My wife and I were also required to be present.

A Bristol Freighter which was coming from Karachi on its way to Chaklala was detailed to drop us at Peshawar. On the way we were supposed to pick up the ceremonial dinner jacket belonging to Air Commodore M. Akhtar A.O.C. No. 1 Group from Sargodha. Thirty miles before Peshawar we encountered a few scattered clouds, the pilot decided to divert the aircraft to its home-base at Chaklala. Before the Cherat hills the sky was clear and the ground visible. I suggested to the Captain that we should descend here from where we could safely proceed to Peshawar below the clouds. The Captain, who was once my second pilot did not agree as he would have to stay an unscheduled night at Peshawar due to the inclement weather. He had already flown about six hours and looked tired. I did not blame him for this decision. He was rude to some passenger when we landed for which I admonished him.

We had our dinner in front of a log fire in the Chaklala mess instead of at Peshawar with the Queen and Duke. I don't know how the A.O.C. managed to attend the Dinner without the proper mess Kit.

In Peshawar, the Royal party was shown the famous Khyber Pass and other important places.

April 1962 - Visit by Jaqueline Kennedy

The elegantly dressed first lady of an incumbent President of the U.S.A. arrived on a short visit to Pakistan. She was an honoured guest of Pakistan's President Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, and flew to Lahore in the Presidents Viscount aircraft from Delhi. I was officially introduced to her as the Base Commander after the Punjab Governor Malik Amir Muhammad Khan of Kalabagh.

There was a big crowd waiting to cheer and welcome her. I noticed that she had a strange twitch in one of her eyes. One typical Lahorite from the spectators passed a loud remark in the Punjabi Language meaning "she is winking at us". I was glad that she did not understand our vernacular dialect. She was taken around to see the historical monuments and given a customary and seeing her off tea party at the Shalimar Garden. After a few days of welcoming her at the Lahore Airport, I received an official photograph signed by her and President Kennedy standing together at the White House, Washington D.C.

She was also flown to see the famous Khyber Pass. When she arrived at Peshawar she was wearing a 'Kara Kuli', Afghan Cap belonging to President Ayub Khan. The story went around that in the aircraft she told him that he was looking very smart and handsome in the Jinnah cap. He immediately obliged her by presenting his own head dress and reciprocated her flattering remarks when she put it on her head. I wonder, if this cap was also auctioned along with her other personal belongings after her death in 1994.

Millions of dollars were collected from the sale which were given as a charity according to her will. She was a charismatic lady who was buried in full honour by the side of her first husband, President Kennedy. Inspite of her second scandalous marriage, to a billionaire ship owner, O'nassis of Greece.

April 1968 - Refuelling Stop by President Lynden Johnson of the U.S.A.

The President of America made a refuelling stop at Karachi Airport on his return flight from the Far East. Field Marshal Ayub Khan specially flew from Islamabad to receive and see off President Johnson, despite his indisposition at that time. In those days, the Security of Airports was under the direct control of Airport Managers. I remember, having taken the maximum possible security measures for the occasion. A lunch was also arranged at the V.V.I.P. room.

Mr. Johnson was a very tall and heavily built person, much taller than the Field Marshal. In those days the relations between our two countries were estrained due to the conflict of policies on Viet Nam and China. Later in the de-briefing on the visit my Security Officer informed that both the Presidents had heated arguments on some issues.

I also noticed that Mr. Johnson was not very courteous to our President, I think that was the start of poor relations between the two countries. The ice was broken only when the Republicans, came into power. President Nixon and Reagon, openly started courting Pakistan because of their own global changed interests.

It was in 1971, Henry Kessinger and President Nixon made clandestine trips to China with the help of Pakistan. Subsequently, the U.S.A. acknowledged the greatness of that mighty country. After the disintegration of Communist Russia, the yellow race in progressing very fast and one day, supposedly will conquer the whole world. Although it seems to me greatly doubtful, especially, when the Jews have reconquered the Arab land after being condemned in the sea for ever by prophet Noah.

October 1968 - First Business Visit by Sheikh Zayed the President of U.A.E.

In the mid sixties Sheikh Zayed showed a lot of interest in Pakistan because of its proximity to the United Arab Emirates and his shooting sprees in our deserts. The Government of Pakistan was not happy with his frequent trips. One day while playing golf with Mr. Rashid Habib the President of Habib Bank requested me for an Airport Pass to receive Sheikh Zayed at the tarmac. The next day he came to my office and explained that the Government was not providing official cars and the Habib Bank wanted to take that responsibility as they intended to open their business in Abu Dhabi.

The following day Mr. Hassan Abidi, President of United Bank also desired to see me urgently. He said that the Habib Bank had no 'modus operandi' to get an apron pass as they had no contacts with the Sheikhs in U.A.E. I told Mr. Hassan Abidi that I had already given instruction to issue the apron pass to Mr. Rashid Habib and it would not be correct and fair to give another one, to his rival. I also came to know through my Security/Intelligence that there might even be a clash between the receiving groups of two banks on the tarmac.

Mr. Hassan Abidi was a great negotiator and convessor, promised that he himself would be present at the tarmac to make sure that there would be no trouble at the Airport. He also said that he had spoken to Mr. Rashid Habib and both agreed to let Sheikh Zayed sit in whichever bank's car he preferred. Mr. Hassan Abidi's staff was clever and they made sure that the chief guest sat in their vehicle. Other members of his party used the Habib Bank cars. The main banking business of Abu Dhabi was won by the United Bank and a beautiful high rise building, the first of its kind was built in the United Arab Emirate at Abu Dhabi.

When the Government of Pakistan realised that the Sheikh Zayed President of U.A.E. did not only come here for bird shooting, they started giving him full and proper protocol since then.