Cecil Chaudhry: National hero on life support

Published: April 13, 2012

Following his decorated career in the air force, Cecil Chaudhry developed a reputation for his work as an educationist and an outspoken activist. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: 

Decorated war hero, educationist and rights activist Cecil Chaudhry was put on life support on Wednesday morning at the Civil Military Hospital in Lahore.

A veteran fighter pilot, Chaudhry is around 70 years old and has been battling lung cancer since 2011.

He is said to be in terminal stage of the disease at present.

“He was in relatively good shape,” said his daughter Michelle Chaudhry while talking to The Express Tribune.

“He is fighting like a true fighter, the way he did twice on the battlefield; but cancer is quite ruthless.”

Cecil was schooled at St Anthony’s High School and is an alumnus of the Forman’s Christian College. He joined the Pakistan Air Force Academy in 1958, where he studied aeronautics and mechanical engineering. It was as a pilot that Chaudhry developed his legacy as national hero for several flight missions including the 1965 and 1971 wars for which he received a Sitara-e-Jurat and Tamgha-e-Jurat.

Following his decorated career in the air force, Chaudhry developed a reputation for his work as an educationist and an outspoken activist.

He served as the principal of St Anthony’s High School in Lahore and St Mary’s Academy Lalazar, Rawalpindi.

Legacy

“He struggled for the rights of minorities and women,” said retired Brigadier-General Samson Simon Sharaf, who was close to Chaudhry and present at the hospital. “He was a great fan of Quaid-e-Azam’s ideals and was critical of the Objectives Resolution [of 1949].”

Executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Peter Jacob, worked closely with Chaudhry and said he actively worked in various capacities to promote a better Pakistan.

He was seen as a mentor of the late minorities’ affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti and was part of the All-Pakistan Minorities Alliance.

“He would tell us that he had fought two wars for the country, but was willing to fight 100 wars against extremism,” Jacob said.

“For the Christian youth, he was a hero,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Umer
    Apr 13, 2012 - 6:21AM

    No Christian is a national hero of this mullah state. What are you talking about?

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  • Apr 13, 2012 - 6:33AM

    A hero in true sense and must be honored for the ideals he lived for. It is now up to the parliament to grant equal status to minorities in Pakistan whose life has been made miserable by unjust laws which were made part of the constitution simply because of one greedy person who wanted to perpetuate his rule over this country, using Islam. So much shame has already been brought to the country and the draconian laws against minorities must now be scraped as soon as possible.Recommend

  • rajah
    Apr 13, 2012 - 7:11AM

    God bless You and Pakistan.

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  • Taji
    Apr 13, 2012 - 8:08AM

    My thought and prayers are with this brave man who fought so bravely for a nation, which does not protect the minorities any more. What a shameful state of affairs has taken over this land of the pure.

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  • sami akmal
    Apr 13, 2012 - 9:19AM

    get well soon, sir. Fighters never give up. i remember , when i was in school ,my father (who also fought 2 wars 4 pakistan) used to tell me about mr.cecil chaudhry, his heroism in the time of war and his services to our society. to me and many more pakistanis, he is my hero.

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  • Tariq
    Apr 13, 2012 - 9:21AM

    @Umer: Get out of here and don’t come back! He is a national hero and we are praying for his health. May he get well soon.

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  • Samson Simon Sharaf
    Apr 13, 2012 - 9:50AM

    Great Man fast fading away. He is fast loosing vital signs. God Bless Him. Amen

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  • shelly
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:00AM

    I hope he gets better soon…all prayers and good wishes for this courageous man!…

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  • RizwanTKhan
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:01AM

    May Allah give you good health and speedy recovery.

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  • Talha
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:06AM

    True hero of Pakistan.

    May God help you in these difficult times.

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  • Adil Mulki
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:09AM

    Salutes… Have heard a lot of good things about the gentleman.

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  • Adeel Ahmed
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:12AM

    Mr Chaudhry sir, you are in our prayers. We are in your eternal debt for what you have done for this country. At the same time, we are sorry that we could not give minorities their due rights. We also take hope that there is at least one instituion, the armed forces, that knows how people, especially heroes, should be treated, irrespective of caste, colour, creed, religion and gender.

    May God (who is the same for Muslims and Christians and others), bless you.

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  • syed Imran
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:14AM

    May Allah Almighty Bless this Hero with speedy recovery-Ameen

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  • Usman
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:18AM

    So sad to hear that… He was my principal in school and obviously a very great person.

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  • Tush Tush
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:18AM

    Why just the Christian youth? This man was a hero to everybody. May his legacy live on forever.

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  • Haroon
    Apr 13, 2012 - 10:19AM

    Our Prayers are with you Cecil this country has forgotten all you did to protect it, you fought for it. May God give you strenght.

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  • Irfan John
    Apr 13, 2012 - 11:39AM

    He is the HERO of PAKISTAN and not of any religious group specifically. he has served for Pakistan and he will remain a national and historical figure Whether some groups believe in his services or not. May God Bless him health.

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  • MAD
    Apr 13, 2012 - 12:13PM

    Religion aside. He is a hero of Pakistan. I salute you Sir.

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  • SK - Salman
    Apr 13, 2012 - 12:25PM

    @Umer: Pakistan is not a monolithic nation which can be characterized as a “mullah state,” or a liberal state. It is a democracy, no matter with how many faults, with a free press that surpasses Western nations in its’ outspokenness. I say this after having lived in the US for over 42 years. So, yes Mr. Chaudhry is a national hero to us. And he commands the same respect in our hearts as do Mr. Ardsher Cowasjee, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, the late Justice Durrab Patel, and many other distinguished Pakistanis that are classified as minority.

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  • Syed Mohib Hassan
    Apr 13, 2012 - 2:31PM

    He was my school principle in Saint Marys Rawalpindi …had the honor to meet him personally….indeed he is a National Unsung Hero! Salute you sir.

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  • Farhan
    Apr 13, 2012 - 2:49PM

    You are a national hero. I hope our christian friends will continue to serve Pakistan despite recent incidents in which fundamentalists have tried to create rifts among Pakistanis.

    Get well soon.

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  • Sobia Aman
    Apr 13, 2012 - 3:47PM

    All the years we knew him in the PAF , never was it felt that he was a Christian in a Muslim state. He was a comrade in arms and a true PAKISTANI . May God bless him .

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  • Ghazi Saud Perwez
    Apr 13, 2012 - 8:23PM

    Its really shocking to know that 1965 war hero cicel chaudhry passed away today . He was a great person pride of the nation

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  • Alina
    Apr 13, 2012 - 9:00PM

    I salute you Sir. You are a real hero and you will always remain in our hearts

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  • Nabil
    Apr 14, 2012 - 12:23AM

    May God bless him. A hero in every sense.

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  • Khawaja
    Apr 14, 2012 - 12:45AM

    Sad news….. The National Hero Departed :(…. R.I.P Sir

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  • Syed
    Apr 14, 2012 - 4:47AM

    @Umer: Fortunately Pakistani military is still made of mixed races and social classes. Even today one of the most outstanding and distinguished pilots of F16s in Pakistan Air Force is a Christian Officer.

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  • Ishtiaq H. Andrabi
    Apr 14, 2012 - 5:20AM

    Gp. Capt. Cecil Chaudhry was an illustrious son of Pakistan who served his country with great honour and dignity.

    As a soldier he fought with valour and gallantry, often putting his life in danger for the safety of Pakistan and as a civilian after retirement, he continued serving his country with same courage and dedication.

    Rest In Peace Gp Capt Chouhdry! you will always be remembered, gratefully and fondly, by your proud nation.

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  • Samina Nawaz
    Apr 14, 2012 - 10:12AM

    He is a National Hero and also a hero of “Punjab Education Foundation” as he renders his services for 15 years honorary. A Great Hero and a Great Man!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Faisal Rais
    Apr 19, 2012 - 10:31PM

    A great man and hero in every patriotic Pakistani’s eyes. You shall be greatly missed, may you rest in eternal peace.

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  • Umer
    Apr 19, 2012 - 10:44PM

    @Sobia Aman:

    All the years we knew him in the PAF ,
    never was it felt that he was a
    Christian in a Muslim state.

    Yet he knew it and complained that his promotion was blocked due to his faith. This proves that the claims of no discrimination are false. Obviously, those who discrimination will never admit to that.

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  • Umer
    Apr 19, 2012 - 10:46PM

    @Syed:

    There is no way to verify any of your claims however general situation of Christians and Cecil Chaudhary’s own statement contradicts your statement.

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