'No bitterness or hatred', IAF man's daughter to Pak pilot
New Delhi, Aug 11: In a profoundly humane gesture, the daughter of an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot has accepted an apology from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) combat pilot who shot down her father's civilian aircraft during the 1965 war, and told him that she and her family bore him no bitterness or hatred.
Jahangir Engineer of the IAF was piloting the then Gujarat chief minister Balwantrai Mehta on the state government-owned Beechcraft plane, which was mistaken for a military aircraft by the PAF and shot down. Qais Hussain, then Flying Officer of the PAF, was deputed for the task.
Engineer and eight others, including Balwantrai Mehta, on board the plane were killed in the incident.
"Yes, this was the one incident which defined our lives thenceforth. But in all the struggles that followed, we never, not for one moment, bore bitterness or hatred for the person who actually pulled the trigger and caused my father's death," Engineer's daughter Farida Singh wrote in a mail to Hussain, who apologised to her 46 years after the incident in a mail earlier this week.
"The fact that this all happened in the confusion of a tragic war was never lost to us. We are all pawns in this terrible game of war and peace," Farida Singh said in her reply, accepting Hussain's apology.
Thanking Hussain for his gesture, Farida Singh also expressed surprise over his apology having found its way into the media, but she ended her mail saying she was "glad" it did, "as it can do nothing but heal wounds".
"And most of all, my father would have liked that it goes towards bringing a spark of forgiveness between our two peoples, who after all were one."
The 70-yer-old Hussain, now a Lahore resident, wrote in his apology Aug 5 that he had shot down the Beechcraft after it showed up on the Pakistani radar, having drifted many miles away from the Indian coast and going up and down over the borders of Rann of Kutch.
"Nonetheless, the unfortunate part in all this is that I had to execute the orders of my controller. Mrs Singh, I have chosen to go into this detail to tell you that it all happened in the line of duty and it was not governed by the concept that 'everything is fair in love and war,' the way it has been portrayed by the Indian media due to lack of information," he had said.
"I did not play foul and went by the rules of business but the unfortunate loss of precious lives, no matter how it happens, hurts each human and I am no exception. I feel sorry for you, your family and the other seven families who lost their dearest ones. I feel greatly grieved that you lost your brother Noshir recently," he added. IANS
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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