Indian pilot’s daughter writes a deeply touching reply to Pakistani pilot who shot her father’s plane down

Qais Hussain with his damaged aircraft during the 1965 war.

Thanks to Naveed Riaz in Lahore for the email that formed the basis of my report on Qais Hussain’s condolence note to Farida Singh, daughter of the Indian pilot whose plane he shot down during the 1965 war. Here’s another note Mr Riaz just sent to his email list: 

This profoundly humane episode continues to move ahead with Indian and Pakistani news channels and media bringing it increasingly to the fore today after Beena Sarwar in Karachi broke the story in Pakistan’s leading daily The News (Aman ki Asha).

Mrs Farida Singh, daughter of the deceased pilot of the Indian plane Jahangir “Jangoo” Engineer replied today to Qais’s letter of condolence four days earlier – see below (NDTV’s coverage this evening at this link). Beena’s article and Qais’s condolence letter here)

From: Farida Singh
10 August 2011 09:49
Subject: Re: Condolence
To: Qais Hussain

Dear Mr. Hussain,

Firstly, thank you for your condolences on the passing away of my brother Noshir.

I am somewhat overwhelmed at receiving this letter, even though I was expecting it as Jagan Pillarisetti had been in touch with me recently on this.

It took courage for you to write this. And for me, too, (I say this humbly) it takes the same to write back . But my father was Courage and Grace at their finest and I now speak on behalf of him, my extraordinary, gracious mother (who survived my father by just 16 years), my late brother Noshir and my elder sister in Canada who is unfortunately legally blind.

Yes, this was the one incident which defined our lives henceforth. But in all the struggles that followed, we never, not for one moment, bore bitterness or hatred for the person who actually pulled the trigger and caused my father’s death.The fact that this all happened in the confusion of a tragic war was never lost to us. We are all pawns in this terrible game of War and Peace.

A little more about my father. An ace pilot if ever there as one. A WWII veteran fighter pilot, a great leader of men, a willing team player, strong in body and spirit. This would have been just the view of an adoring daughter, had it not been reflected by all those fortunate enough to know him. Most of all was the generosity of spirit, and his intuitive understanding of the pain of others. Hence it is now easy for me to reach out my hand to receive your message. This incident is indeed a prime example of what damage strife and mindless battles can drive even good men to do.

Thank you again for your gesture. I know it was not an easy thing for you to do.

In closing, I would like to say that I have no idea as to how your email has made the front page in some prominent dailies here. (Jagan knows how publicity-shy I generally am). A friend told me about it and I then re-checked my inbox and opened your mail this morning, 4 days after you sent it.

However, I am glad that it is now public as it can do nothing but heal wounds, not just on a personal scale but in a much wider arena. And most of all, my father would have liked that it goes towards bringing a spark of forgiveness between our two peoples, who after all were one.

Warm regards,

Farida

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20 Responses

  1. What a fine reply Farida. I belong to a generation born after the wars were over a decade ago. And I always had kept this hatred for India because of Kashmir dispute, water dispute, and the stories of killings at the time of independence. Your letter melt my heart. Especially the part where you wrote “Yes, this was the one incident which defined our lives henceforth. But in all the struggles that followed, we never, not for one moment, bore bitterness or hatred for the person who actually pulled the trigger and caused my father’s death.The fact that this all happened in the confusion of a tragic war was never lost to us. We are all pawns in this terrible game of War and Peace.”
    May my Allah and your Bhagwan Bless you.

    • God bless you all; this is how to wage peace.

  2. we got huge response to the story in our newspaper. thanx to beena, qais hussain and for photograph to naveed riaz. report can be seen on http://www.dailychhattisgarh.com

    sunil kumar
    editor
    daily chhattisgarh, raipur, chhattisgarh, india
    editor.chhattisgarh@gmail.com

  3. [...] Indian pilot’s daughter writes a deeply touching reply to Pakistani pilot who shot her father’s … [...]

  4. its a heart touching reply

  5. very well replied ..

  6. “We are all pawns in this terrible game of War and Peace.”

    Indeed, Farida, you nailed it right on the spot. We the strong almost one and a half billion souls living on both sides of the borders have been played as pawns by the chessmasters. May they gain sanity and change it.
    As you rightly said “a spark of forgiveness between our two peoples, who after all were one.” and not even 64 years of love-hate pendulum nor the three wars or numerous hateful blabberings have been able to change that fact.
    Hope the two letters will heal your’s, Mr Qais’s as well as many other wounds which have been inflicted over the years.

  7. Beena this is a moving and heartfelt story. I’d like to thank both Qais Husain and Farida for reminding us of an essential humanity that’s too easily forgotten.

  8. This is such a poignant piece. Thanks Beena Sarwar for making this a story – because this is a ‘real’ story. In the current times, when media is used more as a commodity & to trivialise & make a mockery of real issues, here comes this courageous piece. This is a testament to the power of media (if used well). Kudos!
    A million thanks to all the lay people of Pakistan & India who sleep with a silent prayer for peace every night. And grand salute to our so very brave forces. Here is my prayer for peace! La Paix!

  9. I don’t agree with India media giving 15min of fame to a criminal who should be persecuted for war crimes. This Pak Pilot shot a civilian plane in Indian airspace. There is Geneva convention and we shouldn’t allow this asshole to clear his conscience after 46yes. He shouldn’t be allowed to put a closure. He’s a murderer and a war criminal. I know cause I serve in the Armed forces

    • I don’t know if this comment should have been approved given the foul language used, but it shows a mentality that needs to be exposed. The writer may serve in the armed forces but he clearly has no sense of history or reality, or he would know that such episodes a) don’t occur in a vaccuum and b) take place on both sides – something that soldiers who are truly honourable on both sides recognise.

      • I am all for peace, as that’s what commoners always want, except when misled by the powers that be. I praise Qais for showing courage after 46 years to write such a moving letter. Manish you are correct in your matter of fact assessment, minus the a-word. Beena you are also correct that lack of judgement can happen on eitherside, but did you really give a direct answer to Manish’s call for justice? Despite history and emotion, I wonder what a judge in a court would say in his verdict, if ever this is discussed in a court. Farida Singh is indeed in a diffrent plane, when she says that she or their family did not have grudge to the individual. I will take this opportunity to praise Qais once again for his courageous letter to make amend. I call upon all people of India and Pakistan to fight for peace and humanity, and not allow themselves to be in a situation where Qais was, where you don’t want to kill but have to kill on orders. If at all you have to fight, fight them who espouse hatred, usually people who are in places of reverence in the goverment, temples, and in the moneyland.

  10. Soldiers do the duty. But this email is the humanitarian part inside a true soldier who keeps the strong feelings of patriotism. And must say the reply goes on the same lines. Good way to heel the wounds…

  11. [...] Beena Sarwar Blog Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Share on Linkedin Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Tell a friend CommentsPowered by Facebook Comments Speaker's Corner   1965 war, Aman ki Asha, Farida Singh, Indian pilot’s daughter writes a deeply touching reply to Pakistani pilot who shot her father’s plane down, Indian plane Jahangir, Naveed Riaz, report on Qais Hussain’s condolence note to Farida Singh, WWII veteran fighter pilot      THE PRAYER THAT SHOCKED THE WORLD » [...]

  12. Among all the comments posts only one man from the forces has dared to be insane, it is our badluck when we have such nonsense people on both sides’ forces, these are the real terrorists who spark violence between the two countries. May peace be let a chance between Pakistan and India… With love from Pakistan (khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

  13. This is how to wage peace.

  14. As human evolution continues their intelligence and understanding grows. human should be so aware that the border war gives us nothing. young generation very well know this. as she said we are just pawns in the game of war, but what we want this pawns to be in the position where they can end this conflict. A young generation knows that the conflict between our two countries limiting our progress. there must be a solution to the problem.i hope i will get a chance to see two beautiful peaceful countries before i die.

    God bless both countries.
    One emotional human.

  15. [...] este correo, Farid Singh asegura a Qais Hussain que ella y su familia nunca habían albergado ningún odio ni [...]

  16. [...] Pakistani journalist Beena Sarwar first reported on this story for a Pakistani newspaper The News and wrote about it on her blog. [...]

  17. [...] Pakistani journalist Beena Sarwar first reported on this story for a Pakistani newspaper The News and wrote about it on her blog. [...]

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