ISLAMABAD - Air Marshal (retd) Malik Nur Khan, the hero of the 1965 Pak-India war, who later served as the Governor of West Pakistan died on Thursday at Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Rawalpindi after protracted illness. Nur Khan was also part of the Pakistani contingent that clashed with the Israeli Air Force during the Six Day War (Arab Israel war 1967).
Air Marshal (retd) Malik Nur Khan (born 22 February 1923) was the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Air Force from 1965 to 1969. He led the Pakistan air force in achieving parity over the three times bigger Indian air force on the first day of the 1965 war. Nur Khan belonged to a small Village of Dandi, Tamman, Talagang.
He later served as the Governor of West Pakistan and President of Pakistan Hockey Federation and Pakistan Cricket Board. Nur Khan was commissioned in the British Indian Air Force on 6 January 1941. Earlier he had attended the Royal Indian Military College at Dehra Dun after completing his education at Aitchison College, Lahore.
Nur Khan was also a member of the National Assembly from 1985 till 1988. He contested in 1988 election on a PPP ticket from NA 44 Chakwal II but wasn’t successful. After defeat in the 1988 elections he decided to retire from politics and his cousin Malik Mumtaz Khan Tamman and Malik Allah Dad Awan began contesting elections from the same constituency. Notable amongst his assignments before partition was that of a flight commander in No 4 Squadron. In the RPAF, he commanded the PAF Academy and, as an air commodore, of No. 1 Group at Peshawar. He also had a stint at the Air Headquarters as the Assistant Chief of Staff Air.
Nur Khan was also part of the Pakistani contingent that clashed with the Israeli Air Force during the Six Day War. Israel President Ezer Weizman, who was also Commander of the Israeli Air Force and the Minister of Defense of Israel, wrote in his autobiography that: “He was a formidable fellow and I was glad that he was Pakistani and not Egyptian”. Nur Khan was the Air Marshal of Pakistan Air Force, Governor of West Pakistan and the Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines. In 1960, PIA imported its first jetliner (a Boeing 707-321 leased from Pan Am) under Nur Khan. Nur Khan was PIA’s Managing Director from 1959 to 1965. He succeeded in making PIA profitable basis within six years. Under his charismatic and inspirational leadership PIA became one of the leading and respected airlines of the world. Under his tenure PIA became the first Asian airline to operate jet aircrafts.