Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui

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Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui
Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui.jpg
Squadron Leader (Major) Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui, 1965.
Birth name Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui
Nickname(s) Mani
Born (1935-07-18)18 July 1935
Flag of Pakistan.svg East Pakistan Rajshahi
Died 6 September 1965(1965-09-06) (aged 30)
Halwara, India
Buried at  Pakistan Lahore
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1953 - 1965
Rank Squadron Leader of IAF.png Squadron Leader
Service number PAF-3550
Unit No. 14 Squadron Shaheens/No. 5 Squadron Falcons
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Awards Hilal-Jurat Ribbon.gif Hilal-e-Jurat
PAK Sitara-i-Juraat ribbon.svg Sitara-e-Jurat

Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui (18 July 1935 – 6 September 1965) was a fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force. He is known for bravery and courage in two of the aerial combats Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, and is a recipient of both the Hilal-e-Jurat (Crescent of Courage) and the Sitara-e-Jurat (Star of Courage).

Early life[edit]

Sarfraz Ahmed Rafiqui was born in Rajshahi (then East Pakistan, present Bangladesh) on 18 July 1935. He had three brothers and a sister. He obtained started his education from St Anthony-s High School, Lahore, matriculating from Government High School, Multan in 1948. With the transfer of his father to Karachi, he joined DJ Singh Science College. Inspired by his elder brother Ijaz Rafiqui (of 4th GDP Course), he later joined RPAF with 13 GD(P) course, graduating in 1953 from RPAF College Risalpur, winning the Best Pilot Trophy.

After graduation he was deployed to Miranshah, flying Hawker Sea Fury. Later he was selected for Advanced Flying Course as well as the Fighter Weapons Instructors- Course, in USA. Later after qualifying from Fighter Leaders School of PAF in 1960, he went as an exchange pilot with No 19 Sqn of RAF, flying Hawker Hunters.[1]

On return from UK in 1962, he was appointed OC of No 14 Squadron in Dhaka. After a year there, he was transferred to No 5 Squadron as OC, which he commanded during the war of 65.

Indo-Pakistan War of 1965[edit]

On the evening of 1 September 1965, IAF intervened at Chamb Sector to stop the Pak Army's XII Division offensive against Akhnoor, with three strike formations of de Havilland Vampires of No 45 Sqn of IAF flying in for Close Air Support. Rafiqui along with Flight Lieutenant Imtiaz Bhatti (of No 15 Sqn) while patrolling at 20,000 ft. near Chamb, was directed to the attacking aircraft. A total of four attacking aircraft (three from one formation only) were shot down, two by Rafiqui.[2] He was awarded with Sitara-e-Jurrat for this mission.

On 6 Sep 65, he was tasked to lead four aircraft of No 5 Sqn to strike IAF Halwara Air Base along with Flight Lieutenant Younus Hussain as his number 2, Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry as number 3, and Flight Lieutenant Saleem as No 4, reaching there by at 1705 hours. However, due to the missions flown earlier in defense of Lahore, the aircraft were made ready for flights at given time, critically delaying the raid. Later on. While taxiing, the generator of F/L Saleem malfunctioned and hence a 3 ship formation finally took off for Halwara.[3]

Halwara had two Hunter Squadrons (No 7 and No 27 Sqn, the former moving in from Ambala in August 65) stationed there. The formation pulled up for attack on target at 1753 hrs, immediately intercepting the CAP formation of Flying Officer A. R. Gandhi and Flying Officer P.S. Pingale of No 7 Squadron. After scoring one kill onto Pingale's Hunter, Rafiqui's guns jammed. He ordered Chaudhry to take lead carry on the attack and providing cover to his tail. While doing so, his plane was hit by Flying Officer A. R. Gandhi (who was shot down by Cecil, moments later). (As per IAF sources, Gandhi's claim was not vindicated being nowhere in the vicinity of the airfield, as maintained by Ghandhi, crediting Flt Lt D N Rathore of 27 Sqn).[4]

Ejection was tried, however it did not prove successful due low altitude. According to flight surgeon who had been to crash site, ″the body of ‘a tall, brown-eyed PAF Squadron Leader’ had been found a few yards from the wreckage″

The wreckage of Rafiqui’s Sabre #52-5248 is still held in IAF Museum at Palam.

For his bold leadership displayed over Halwara, Rafiqui was awarded Hilal-i-Jur’at. His citation read:

"On 6 September 1965, Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmad Rafiqui led a formation of 3 F-86 aircraft on a strike against Halwara airfield. The formation was intercepted by about 10 Hunter aircraft out of which Squadron Leader Rafiqui accounted for one in the first few seconds. But then his guns jammed due to a defect and stopped firing. However, Rafiqui refused to leave the battle area which he would have been perfectly justified to do; instead he ordered his No. 2 to take over as leader and continue the engagement while he tried to give the formation as much protection as was possible with an unarmed aircraft. This called on the part of Squadron Leader Rafiqui. The end for him was never in doubt but he chose to disregard it and, in the process, his aircraft was shot down and he was killed but not before enabling his formation to shoot down 3 more Hunter aircraft. Rafiqui’s conduct was clearly beyond the call of duty and conformed to the highest traditions of leadership and bravery in battle against overwhelming odds. For this and his earlier exploits, he is awarded Hilal-i-Jurat and Sitara-i-Jurat" [5]

Honors and legacy[edit]

Pakistan's third biggest air base, Rafiqui Airbase (Shorkot Cantonment) is named after him. One of the largest roads of the Lahore Cantonment is named Sarfaraz Rafiqui Road in his honour. Rafiqui Shaheed Road in Karachi is also named after him. In Peshawar, the Rear Air Headquarters and PAF School and Degree College, are located on Rafiqui Road.

Notes and references[edit]