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.

November, 1949
Visit to Taj Mahal

No aircraft was based in East Pakistan during the first two years of Independence in 1947. The Government, therefore, decided to send at least six AOP Austers to Dacca. The first contingent was flown by Major Azmat Awan who later retired as a General and Captains Baber, Ghalib, Fazal, Zafar and Mahmood. Major General Naseer-Ullah Khan Babar became the Governor of N.W.F.P. and the Interior Minister of Pakistan during the People's Party Government. I was the Captain of the escorting Dakota carrying the maintenance equipment and the personnel for these small aircrafts.

After taking off from Lahore, the first night stop was at Agra, in between, the aircraft were refuelled at Ambala and Delhi. At the Agra Base we were the guests of the Indian Air Force, which was commanded by Group Captain Bhatia, a senior officer who was also friendly with some Pakistani Officers. He arranged a dinner party in our honour and also invited a few civilian officials, which included the Superintendent of Police Das, who was the younger brother of Air Commodore B.K. Das, a very senior officer of the PAF. I was carrying a personal letter from him for the S.P. and was briefed to be careful while delivering it though the Base Commander, who introduced me to Mr. Das. As soon as I had the chance of being alone with him, I gave the letter from his elder brother. It obviously, did not contain any secret. It was a letter from one brother to another; who has not met or corresponded with eachother since the Partition.

After Dinner, Group Captain Bhatia asked us if we would like to visit the Taj Mahal in full moonlight. Everybody appreciated his kind offer. A Squadron Leader of the Security / Intelligence branch accompanied us. It was my third visit to that famous wonder of the world. The Taj Mahal in the full moonlight looked like a beautiful girl in a white wedding dress waiting for the bridegroom. Everyone knows, that it was a befitting tribute of love by Shah Jahan, the Moghal Emperor for his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. After Partition, visiting the great white marble monument once again was a dream come true. It has still survived and preserved the perfect harmony and precision work, after four-hundred years.

Around midnight while returning to the mess, the Indian Air Force Officer and I were walking slightly ahead of the party. At that time, we were suddenly stopped by some civilian intelligence personnel who questioned us about our identity. I am positive that they very well knew as to who we were. They told us that the foreigners were not allowed to visit the Taj Mahal, without a permit from the civil police. The Indian Air Force Intelligence Officer disclosed his identity and nearly lost his temper, when the Indian Police Officer started arguing with him. The latter insisted that before bringing us here, the Air Force should have arranged for a group pass. The IAF Officer shut him down and finally told to report the case to the Base Commander whose guests we were.

Those were the early days of Independence when the feelings were not as bitter as they are today. We made another night stop at Gaya in an uncomfortable rest-house, after refuelling stops at Lucknow and Benares. We reached Dacca the next day, via Asonsol and Dum Dum, a custom stop. On the way we saw the mighty Mount Everest; the highest mountain in the world, which was clearly visible because of good weather and clear skies. The Army was exuberant, having received the first Squadron of the army aircraft in East Pakistan, even before the Air Force. The Sabre and Fury were to come much later.

This particular trip will always be an unforgettable event in our lives, because of having seen the splendid Taj Mahal in full moonlit night built by the great Muslim architects. It always will, and undoubtedly be acknowledged as one of the eight wonders of the world provided the Indians look after the beautiful monument. The white marble has now started decaying due to the pollution from the factories in and around Agra city. This is being reported by the Indian Newspapers.