Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui

Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui (18 July 1935 – 6 September 1965) was a fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force. He was 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).

Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui
Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui.jpg
Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui, 1965
Born(1935-07-18)18 July 1935
Rajshahi, British India
Died6 September 1965(1965-09-06) (aged 30)
Burial place Pakistan Lahore
Alma materSt. Anthony High School, Lahore
Military career
Birth nameSarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui
Allegiance Pakistan
Service/branch Pakistan Air Force
Years of service1953–1965
RankSquadron Leader of IAF.png Squadron Leader
Service numberPAF-3550
UnitNo. 14 Squadron Shaheens/No. 5 Squadron Falcons
Battles/warsIndo-Pakistani War of 1965
AwardsHilal-Jurat Ribbon.gif Hilal-e-Jurat
PAK Sitara-i-Juraat ribbon.svg Sitara-e-Jurat

Early lifeEdit

Sarfraz Ahmed Rafiqui was born in Rajshahi (then British Raj, present Bangladesh) on 18 July 1935. He had three brothers and a sister. He started his education at 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 Sindh 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 at the USAF Weapons School. 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 1965Edit

On the evening of 1 September 1965, IAF intervened at Chhamb Sector by launching 26 aeroplanes (12 de Havilland Vampires and 14 Mysteres) to stop the Pak Army's XII Division offensive against Akhnoor in response to an SOS from the Indian Army. The IAF's 45 Sqn was tasked to carry out Close air Support missions in support of Indian troops. These 26 planes flying in Finger-four formation strafed Pakistani positions and attacked Pakistani tanks and ground targets, when these Indian aircraft were sighted, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) scrambled two F-86 Sabres, flown by S/L Sarfraz Rafiqui of No 5 Sqn and F/L Imtiaz Bhatti of No 15 Sqn from PAF Base Sargodha to intercept. In the ensuing dogfight over Chhamb where S/L Rafiqui took on flight leader and wingman and F/L Bhatti went after element leader and element wingman. India acknowledged losing four aeroplanes, all 4 IAF Vampires, flown by Squadron Leader Aspi Kekobad Bhagwagar (flight leader), Flight Lieutenant Vijay Madhav Joshi (element leader), Flight Lieutenant Satish Bharadwaj (element wingman) and Flight Lieutenant (later Group Captain) Shrikrishna Vishnu Phatak (wingman). Both PAF pilots were credited with shooting down two de Havilland Vampires each and were awarded with Sitara-e-Jurrat for this mission.

On 6 September 1965, 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.[2]

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).[3]

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.[4]

Honors and legacyEdit

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.

Parents' gestureEdit

The Government of Pakistan awarded 77 acres of prime agriculture land as a recompense with the awards of HJ and SJ, which was bequeathed by Rafiqui's parents to the Sarfraz Rafiqui Welfare Trust.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ "Sqn Ldr Sarfaraz Ahmed Riafiqui(Hilal-E-Jurat)- A Man of Character in Peace, A Man of Courage in War". Defence Journal, May 98.
  2. ^ "PAFs First Shaheeds". defencejournal. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  3. ^ Tufail, Kaiser (20 November 2008). "Aeronaut: Theirs But to Do and Die". Aeronaut. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  4. ^ "History of PAF – PAF Shaheeds". Retrieved 5 February 2014.

External linksEdit