A paragon of probity, uprightness, sagacity and pure brilliance; qualities that shone through each stride of his throughout his life; Air Marshal Nur Khan passed away on the 15th of December, at the age of 88.
Nur Khan assumed the command of Pakistan Air Force in July 1965. During the Indo-Pak war of that year, he set a personal example by flying several operational missions that played a major role in PAF achieving parallelism over the three-times-greater Indian Air Force.
For his courage and distinguished leadership during the war, he was conferred upon the gallantry award of Hilal-e-Juraat.
Before the war, he was the Managing Director of the sagging Pakistan International Airlines from 1959 to 1965. His outstanding managerial capabilities and vision led to the success of re-establishing PIA as a dynamic organization; ‘becoming one of the leading airlines of the world, the first Asian airline to operate jet aircraft. The airline inducted modern Boeing 720B jet in its fleet. PIA started flying to China and flights to Europe via Moscow were also launched during this period.
He kept PIA out of Pakistan’s turbulent political arena and returned it to a sound commercial basis.’
During the Six Day War, he was part of the Pakistani contingent that clashed with the Israeli Air Force.
It is reported that the President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, who was also the Commander of the Israeli Air Force and the Minister of Defense of Israel, wrote in his autobiography that: “He was a formidable fellow and I was glad that he was Pakistani and not Egyptian”.
Nur Khan did not only have a profound effect on the success and survival of PIA through his managerial eminence, but is also responsible for the construction of a firm infrastructural base and a dedicated, matchless promotion of the two most popular sports of Pakistan, which is to say the least about his contributions regarding this.
He headed the Pakistan Hockey Federation under which Pakistan Hockey scaled the greatest of heights in its history; possessing all the top titles from the Olympics, World Cup, Champions Trophy and to the Asia Cup at the same time.
In cricket, the arrival and introduction of the World Cup to the sub-continent in 1987 is also ascribed to him and his tenure as the Chairman of the PCB.
A man of absolute integrity, humility, tenacity, honour, mettle and spirit and exceptional administrative attributes; Air Marshal Nur Khan redefined the domain of administration and excellence in Pakistan.
A dedicated Pakistani, he was and always will be an inspiration and a legendary figure.
May he fly high in this Final Flight of his.
~ Hafsa Khawaja