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Pakistani Christians pay tribute to Cecil Chaudhry

Cecil Chaudhry, 71, a veteran fighter pilot of Pakistan Air Force, died at the age of 71, on Friday, April 13, 2012, at the Combined Military Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan, after suffering from lung cancer.

A group of Pakistani Christians met recently to pay tribute to Roman Catholic war hero, (Retired) Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry, its former Chairman and one of the national heroes of Pakistan during 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak Wars.

 

A recent picture of
Cecil Chaudhry

Chaudhry, 71, a veteran fighter pilot of Pakistan Air Force, died at the age of 71, on Friday, April 13, 2012, at the Combined Military Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan, after suffering from lung cancer.

September 6 is marked in the country as Defence Day to highlight the sacrifices of martyrs’ soldiers. During this national event, citizens make commitments to build a “strong, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan.”

The Society for Human Development (SHD) organized a Eucharistic Mass in Toba Tek Singh led by Rev. Fr. Shamas Simon and people from various sections of life including men, women and youth, attended the mass.

A church choir led by Faraz Yousaf sang special hymns on the occasion.

Rafia Salomi, Deputy Director SHD, welcomed the worshippers and shared with the congregation various aspects of the life of Cecil Chaudhry.

“Cecil Chaudhry joined Pakistan Air Force (PAF) as fighter pilot and dedicated his life to safeguard Pakistan from the enemies,” she said. “He was a real Pakistani who fought against India during 1965 and 1971 wars and destroyed dozens of the fighter planes of India.

“He returned back successfully and nation recognized his bravery and courage to protect our motherland.”

 

Lighting candles for a war hero

She added that the Government of Pakistan granted him various awards for her service including “Sitara-i-Shujat” (Star of Courage) and “Tamgha-i- Basalat” (Medal of Good Conduct).

Rafia Salomi also said, “Every Pakistani Christian is proud of his great service to the nation and regarded him all through his life.

“Cecil Chaudhry was not only an military professional, but was a great educational reformer, human rights activist and ambassador of Muslim-Christian friendship. As founding member of Punjab Education Foundation, he introduced some revolutionary programs to improve equality education among the poor of the poorest in the province of Punjab. He was a great man with great qualities and vision.”

She appealed the worshippers to “pray for his family members” and reiterated that her group “would follow the footsteps of Cecil Chaudhry to promote, peace, love, harmony and service to the nation.”

Fr. Shamas Simon, said, “Cecil Chaudhry was a faithful Catholic who witnessed the Gospel values in his life. He was used to share his experiences with Christian followers. As a Principal in St. Anthony’s High School and a school in Rawalpindi, he produced great people who won a good name for Pakistan.

 

Pakistani’s lining up in church to pay their respects to Cecil Chaudhry

“Mr. Cecil was an inspiration for a Christian leader, Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the Chief of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance who was assassinated while struggling for the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan. Defence Day is a time to remember all these Christian great heroes who laid their lives to serve Pakistan.”

Dozens of messages from laity and clergy were read out for the son and daughters of Cecil Chaudhry, and for the continuation and realization of his mission, by friends of Cecil Chaudhry including Fr. Bonnie Mendes and Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani.

After the Mass, congregation gathered in front of Cecil Chaudhry’s portrait and offered flowers and lit the candles while the choir sang special songs with messages to love Pakistan and dedicate themselves to fight against poverty, terrorism, and other menaces.

Mainstream media representatives including Dawn, Geo Group’s Daily Jang and The News, Pakistan, along with others were present to cover the event.

ANS would like to thank Rafia Salomi for providing the information for this story.

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