Teenage pilot Haris Suleman, who was flying around the world in a bid to raise money for underprivileged students, has been conferred the Sitara-e-Imtiaz award by President Mamnoon Hussain.
A list issued by the government on the occasion of Independence Day mentions the name of late Haris Suleman as a recipient of the third-highest civil award in Pakistan. The list says that the award will posthumously be conferred upon him in a ceremony on Pakistan Day next year.
Seventeen-year-old US born Pakistani, Haris, died in a plane crash on July 22 when his single-engine aircraft crashed into the sea after taking off from the American Samoa Islands. Babar, his father, who was accompanying him, is still missing. The son-father duo, that was raising money for the education of Pakistani underprivileged students, was attempting to fly around the world in 30 days.
A high school student in Indiana, US, Haris and his father were collecting donations for The Citizens Foundation (TCF). According to the organisation, the duo had already been able to raise over one million dollars before they met their tragic fate.
An uncle of Haris, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Abid Rao told The Express Tribune that the civil award was an honour for the whole family. "We are honoured as this is a timely recognition. Haris was committed and undertook a dangerous journey flying over the ocean. His friends and others have vowed to carry on his mission and contribute to the TCF cause."
Rao, however, said that Haris's father, Babar, too should have been given some form of recognition as he was the one who had motivated his son to take up the cause.
The relative said that though Babar and the main wreckage were still missing, they had lost all hope of finding him alive.
A spokesperson for the TCF said that they were proud to be associated with Haris and his family. He added said that the duo's inspiring journey for the education of Pakistani children would always be remembered.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2014.