White in the flag

September 27, 2021

The month of September marks the remembrance of the 1965 Indo-Pak War. It pays tribute to the brave heroes and commemorates the great sacrifices of the courageous Pakistani armed forces and daring...

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The month of September marks the remembrance of the 1965 Indo-Pak War. It pays tribute to the brave heroes and commemorates the great sacrifices of the courageous Pakistani armed forces and daring civilians who successfully defended their motherland not just during the 1965 War but also throughout the years that have passed.

During the years that passed by, we have had great heroes defending our motherland, and taking the opportunity today, I’d like to pay my tribute to some of the heroes that have emerged from the minorities living in Pakistan. They are a source of inspiration for many. They have shown us that regardless of religion or ethnicity what really matters is that we are all Pakistanis and nothing is more important than our motherland. Also, that we are one and the same under the ensemble of this beautiful country.

To begin with, one of the most influential examples of this notion is Cecil Chaudhry, who fought the Indo-Pak war of 1965 as squadron leader and then in 1971. During the 1965 War, he and the other three pilots under the leadership of wing commander Anwar Shamin attacked the Amritsar radar station and was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat for his actions during the mission and was also awarded Tamgha-i-Jurat (1971). After his retirement, he served as the principal for Saint Anthony’s College Lahore.

He was also an independent human rights activist and worked for the betterment of children with disabilities. Cecil Chaudhary died at the age of 70 in Lahore in 2012 after a battle with lung cancer and was awarded the President Pride of Performance in August 2013.

In addition, Air Vice-Marshal Eric Hall and Air Vice Marshal O’Brien rose to the position of Vice Chief of Air Staff. Moreover, Air Commodore Torowic’s engineering expertise and efforts ensured the availability of a maximum numbers of fighter aircraft for wartime missions in 1965. Subsequently, Air Commodore Nazir Latif commanded the biggest fighter base of the PAF.

In the military, we have the example of people like Austin Christian, a Brigadier. In the Pakistan Army, he commanded a cavalry regiment and also served as Director of Budget. During his career, he received the Tamgha-e Basalat, Sitara-e-Harb and Tamgha-e-Jang. Austin captained the Pakistan National Basketball team, under his captaincy, the team won silver medals in international championships in Tehran and Lahore.

Austin also represented Pakistan in a number of international organizations and competitions. He was Pakistan’s deputy chief team mission at the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi. He retired in 1988 with the rank of Brigadier and was also awarded the President’s Performance Medal for his contribution to the field of sports. He died on 29th December 2013.

Speaking about the present, we have Noel Israel Khokar (retd), who served as a major general, he is the highest-ranking Christian serving officer in the Pakistan Army and currently ambassador of Pakistan to Ukraine.

Minorities have not only protected Pakistan and its borders but have also made a major contribution for the welfare of its people, through people such as Sister Gertrude Lemmens (14 July 1914– 30 October 2000) who was a Dutch nun and founder of Dar-ul-Sukun, a home for the mentally-handicapped, orphans, and the elderly in Karachi. She was committed to touring the slums of Karachi and reaching out with her heart and mind to anybody who needed her help. In recognition of her work for the homeless, the needy, and the handicapped, she received the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam Award on 23 March 1989, from the then President of Pakistan, one of the highest honours given to foreign nationals. Former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto attended the ceremony.

In the health sector, we had Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau (9 September 1929–10 August 2017) a name that the majority of us are aware of. She was a German–Pakistani Catholic nun belonging to the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary. She has devoted more than 55 years of her life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan. Pfau was honoured with the Hilal-i-Pakistan, Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam, and the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam awards. Pfau contributed to the establishment of 157 leprosy clinics across Pakistan that treated over 56,780 people.

In addition, we have a notable contribution by the Hindu community for Pakistan such as Danish Kaneria cricketer, Anil Dalpat cricketer, Deepak Perwani fashion designer, Rana Bhagwandas, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Naveen Perwani, Asian Games bronze medal winner and Sindh Snooker Cup winner, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, politician and founder of Pakistan Hindu Council.

You might be surprised to know that I’ve missed out on several names who’ve contributed to the progress of this nation. In all aspects, minorities have delivered Pakistan in all their capacity. We minorities try our level best to do justice to the representation we have on the flag of Pakistan, which is also the only country in the world that has a special representation of minorities on its flag. The take-home message, which I would like to give through this article is that regardless of race, religion, and social disparities, we are all Pakistanis, and we should be proud of being Pakistani.

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