Today Pakistan Air Force (PAF) lost a great visionary leader, a superb commander, devoted soldier and a brilliant mind. Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan was born on 22nd Feb, 1923. He joined Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) in Jan, 1941. During a career that spanned over 28 years, he commanded PAF Bases Risalpur, Chaklala, Peshawar and Mauripur. He also served as Assistance Chief of Air Staff Operations (ACAS Ops).
During his tenure as Managing Director of PIA(1959-1965), he made PIA as Asia’s best airline. Long distance flights and induction of first jet engine airliner, Boeing-707 were also achieved in his time.At the prime of his career as 6th Chief of PAF (23 Jul 1965- 31 Aug 1969) Nur Khan was given the best opportunity to lead PAF in its most crucial times. During 1965 war, he personally visited PAF bases and airfields which were participating in the combat in an F-86 Sabre fighter/bomber aircraft flown by him. Making vital decisions with the Squadron commanders on the field was his biggest quality. It was his visionary leadership that made PAF able to counter all threats from three times bigger enemy.
After the 1965 war, US cut the spares and training to India and Pakistan. This decision was not much hurtful to India, which relied more on Russian arms. For Pakistan, this meant an end to most of its fleet including F-104 and F-86E/F Sabre fighter/bomber aircraft, B-57/RB-57 Bombers, T-37 and Harvad Trainer aircraft and C-130 transport aircraft. Nur Khan and his predecessor Asghar Khan began a new chapter in history of PAF by going to China for the solution. As a result of which, first batch of six F-6 fighter/bomber aircraft were inducted in PAF in December 1965. F-6 remained a mainstay aircraft in PAF for a long time.
It was also Nur Khan who decided to bring a non-US delta winged Mirage fighter/bomber aircraft in PAF. The first batch of six Mirages was delivered to PAF in 1967. Mirage is still a regular member of PAF fleet even after more than 44 years of service. Nur Khan was appointed as MD PIA for the second time in 1973. He also served as Governor of West Pakistan, President of Pakistan Hockey Federation, Pakistan Cricket Board and member of National Assembly from 1985-1988.
Even after his retirement from PAF, Nur Khan was invited to many PAF gatherings and events. He always shared words of wisdom during his lectures and discussions with young officers.
Nur Khan’s legacy will not end with his death. Whole Pakistani nation and especially PAF will always remember this great soldier that played a vital role in making PAF a formidable fighting force.
May Allah bless his soul. Amen!