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Sparking the Economy

There is nothing more important for re-vitalizing the economy than increasing employment opportunities, the increased cash flow in the economy has a snowball effect that in turn creates more jobs and so on. Maximum emphasis must also be put on population control, with population growth at nearly 3% the highest in the world we have diminishing job slots in Pakistan. Besides 3 million more hungry mouths to feed, we have to create at least 3 million more jobs, impossible even for the most vibrant of economies. That’s why we are playing “catch-up” all the time!


Flying Gladiators

President General Pervez Musharraf will present ‘Flying Brevets’ to the officers of P-43 Army Aviation Young Officers Course at a ceremony today at Army Aviation Base, Gujranwala Cantt. We will try and attend this event, it brings back nostalgic memories. Thirty-three years ago both of us graduated from the Army Aviation School, Dhamial in March 1969, only 12 surviving the initial intake of 27 officers in Army Aviation Young Officers Course P-10. The then Commander-in-Chief Pakistan Army Gen Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan pinned flying wings on our chest, a few days later he became President of the country. In 1967 we had the distinction of topping (out of 350 officers) the Infantry Weapons and Tactics Course at Infantry School, Quetta, in 1969 we missed out on the “All-Round Efficiency Trophy” and “the Flying Trophy” respectively, Capt (Retd) Pervez Yousuf (Miss PMA 1963) and Brig (then Maj) Farooq Ahmed Khan (Ironhead) being the deserving winners. We were both posted to 1 Army Aviation Squadron which was then on the move from Dhamial to Mangla Cantt. (Saeed) served as QM with Col Hashmi, (Ikram) became the Squadron Adjutant. We spent wonderful days at Mangla, mainly due to the presence as Corps Commander 1 Corps of one of the finest officers that the Pakistan Army has produced, late Lt Gen M Attiqur Rahman.

During this period, the ratio of pilots to aircraft was not adequate, there was a tremendous shortage of pilots in a “demand” situation. (Saeed) was sent post-haste to do the PAF Flight Instructor School (FIS) at Risalpur while (Ikram) did the OH(13)S Basic Helicopter Course (dead man’s curve) at Dhamial. (Saeed) went onto instruct several batches of Army Officers how to fly, as the youngest VIP-qualified helicopter pilot in Army Aviation in 1970, Ikram flew Alouette-3s officially and a host of other aircraft unofficially (for operational reasons) from Khunjerab Pass to Teknaf, south of Cox’s Bazar. (Saeed) got his “Sitara-e-Jurat” directing air sorties and artillery fire in Chamb in 1971. In relative economic terms both of us have been extremely fortunate but the finest period of our youth was that spent in the service of the country as officers of the Pakistan Army, the “aviation” transition period was certainly “creme de la creme”. The quality of our colleagues was outstanding, the camaraderie was excellent! Former infantry officers with extremely strong attachments to our parent units, we rated our Army Aviation service as “superlative” in quality. Whether (Saeed) teaching his students to come out of a “spin” or (Ikram) lifting casualties from a mountaintop in Azad Kashmir or Gilgit, we risked our lives daily and thought nothing of it. Therefore one can well appreciate the much more manifold risks today’s Army Aviators face! People like “Uz”, later Maj Gen (and High Commissioner), Saeeduz Zaman Janjua kept us forever in a state of good aerial humour, the integrity, competence and indomitable spirit of officers like (then Lt Col) Maj Gen (later Governor NWFP) Nasirullah Khan Babar and (then Maj) Maj Gen Inayatullah Khan Niazi was a source of great inspiration to us. How can one forget (Ikram’s) beloved Flight Commander in Log Flt Eastern Command, Maj (later Brig) Tirmizi, an unsung symbol of quiet courage, fairplay and determination, the perfect Aviator CO in the most adverse circumstances.