Monday, April 28, 2008

Eight Pass Charlie

In my opinion, there can be no peace between India and Pakistan unless the Kashmir issue is settled. For either of the countries, giving up hold over Kashmir would mean a colossal political defeat. And neither will be satisfied with shared pieces. To win the territory by force would involve a leviathan toll over human lives as well as economy, which at the moment neither country looks capable of sustaining. Even if in future we manage to actually empower our economy to buoy such a move, it is obvious that superpowers will interfere and pressurize us to bring about an entente. That goes to say that the debate over Kashmir, the militancy and the struggle will go on for decades, unless of course some 'Gorbachev' gets himself at the helm of political machinery of either of the nations, and compromises the pride of his country for sake of a larger picture, destroying his popularity along with it.

For this reason, we Indians can be forgiven for recognizing Pakistanis as our enemies. But one of my favourite generals Julius Caesar had said in his time, 'Respect your enemies, and you will be respected'. For this reason I feel proud to post about my favourite Pakistani war hero. Ironically I learned about him from officers of Indian Air Force. His tale is quite popular among our air force lads. We don't know his real name since it is a secret shared only by the Pakistanis. But here in India everyone refers to him by his codename, 'Eight Pass Charlie'.

During Lal Bahadur Shastri's era, although we celebrated victory after reaching Rawalpindi(then the capital of Pakistan), it may not be told in the books, but is a fact that Pakistanis dominated the air battle. To be better acquainted with air battles, it is well to know that there are three kinds of planes:

Fighter aircraft for air-to-air combat.

Bomber aircraft for air-to-round combat.

Cargo Airplanes for transportation.

Most of the ace pilots work with fighter airplanes. While bomber planes are used along with heavy cover of fighter jets. The bomber planes are heavier than fighter jets and have less maneuverability than fighter jets, along with large wing span, and less speed. This makes them soft targets of anti-aircraft guns. This is one of the reasons that they fly at a great height. In those days when our enemy had to attack our airbases, flying at a great height would reduce the accuracy of bombing to 0%. Hence they had no choice but to fly low.

For that reason, in order to avoid getting blown out of the sky by Indian ground defenses, they generally carried only eight bombs in each flight, which would reduce their weight and increase their speed. Many enemy pilots were dead scared of our anti aircraft defense, and hence probably pissing in their pants, they had to fly over our airbase for once and they would most often drop all eight bombs in a single pass, in a very erratic manner, resulting in a very inconsequential damage for us. After having done, they would return home to fill in another eight bombs.

However, when the 'Eight pass Charlie' would arrive in his bomber plane, it would be without any cover of fighter jets. He would fly close to the ground, and would make eight consecutive passes over our airbase, and drop one bomb in each pass, amid heavy barrage of anti aircraft fire. His aim was accurate and his single flight would inflict the heaviest damage on out troops, more than what the all other planes would collectively do in an entire day. Later on by the end of the war, every officer in Indian ground defense team was able to recognize his familiar engine noise and style of flight. All of them held great admiration for him in their heart for displaying such valour, when attempting to knock him out of air.

He remained unbeaten till the end of the war. Such was his skill and bravery that is quite hard to come buy, even among pilots. While Arun Lal might opine that discretion be the better part of courage, this guy must have definitely thought otherwise. His remarkable courage is what makes him stand out among other Pakistanis. He certainly cannot be called a terrorist for fighting against us.

I believe such a courage should be appreciated by us, despite being enemies. He is probably one of the elements Pakistan can be proud of, if not all the other bloodthirsty jihadis.

1 comment:

lightning said...

thats a great story man......