Islamabad: Almost half-a-century after he
shot down an Indian civilian aircraft carrying the then Chief
Minister of Gujarat, a Pakistan Air Force pilot has apologised
to the daughter of the pilot of the downed plane, saying he
was "not a trigger-happy person" and this happened in the line
of duty during the 1965 war.
Qais Hussain was a rookie Flying Officer during the 1965
war when he shot down the Beechcraft piloted by distinguished
ex-Indian Air Force pilot Jehangir Engineer.
Besides Engineer and the then Gujarat Chief Minister
Balwantrai Mehta, the Chief Minister`s wife Sarojben Mehta,
three members of his personal staff, a crew member and a
reporter of the Gujarat Samachar were killed in the incident.
Hussain, who wrote an e-mail to Engineer`s daughter,
decided to explain his side of the story after PAF
officer-turned-blogger Kaiser Tufail researched the incident
and concluded that Pakistani officials had wrongly surmised
that the Indian aircraft was on a surveillance mission.
"We were at war at the time and the initial impression
after I shot down the aircraft was that we had been able to
eliminate a new front. We were all very happy and I got a pat
on the back from my colleagues," Hussain, 70 said.
Referring to the incident of September 19, 1965, Hussain
said: "This happened at about 4 pm. At 7 pm, All India Radio
announced the aircraft that was shot down was carrying the
Chief Minister and our mood became very sombre. We all
repented what had happened but the event fell by the wayside."