Name: Saifullah Khan Lodhi
Pak No: 3839
Father’s Name: Abdullah Khan
Date of Birth: 11 Sep 1933
Place of Birth: Jallandar, India
GD(P) Course: 24 GD (P)
Date of Commission: 25 Apr 1958
Date of Shahadat/Burial: 11 Sep 1965/University town graveyard Faisalabad
Gallantry Award: Sitara-e-Jurat (SJ)
Early Life/Career: Jallandar born Saifullah Lodhi was the direct descendent of the great warrior king Ibrahim Lodhi. At the time of independence, his family migrated to Pakistan and settled in Lyallpur (Faisalabad). His grandfather, Major Akbar Khan Lodhi, was a distinguished officer of Royal Army and had the singular honour of being the ADC of first viceroy of India. His father Abdullah Khan was a reputable police officer well- known for unflinching integrity. He instilled the sense of truthfulness in young Lodhi and played a key role in his grooming. Being brilliant in academics, Saifullah excelled in school and passed matriculation exams with distinction. His brilliance was not limited to studies only; he showed prowess on sporting turf as well and won the enviable title of “Best Athlete” during studies at Government College, Faisalabad. Later in his career, he represented the PAF’s official hockey team in national games and won a gold medal.
With a dream to become an officer of air force, Lodhi joined RPAF College, Risalpur and graduated as an operational navigator in Apr 1958. Young Lodhi joined No 6 Sqn soon after his graduation and flew extensively on Bristol Freighter transport aircraft. With consistent hard work and unflinching dedication to flying duties, Lodhi soon earned the reputation of being a meticulous navigator of the Sqn. He was also among the proud few who were selected for flying on the newly inducted B-57 aircraft. After conversion on bombers, he initially joined No 7 Sqn at Mauripur and later joined No 24 Sqn equipped with RB-57 aircraft. As the war broke out in 1965, Lodhi was performing his duties in the same Sqn, under thelegendary command of Sqn Ldr M Iqbal. Lodhi flew day in and day out during the war and carried out large number of photo reconnaissance missions on unarmed B-57 aircraft deep inside enemy territory. He always volunteered to fly the most daring and challenging missions assigned to the Sqn.
Brief Description of Shahadat: Since the beginning of the 1965 Indo-Pak War, Amritsar radar proved to be a formidable target for PAF. The high-powered Indian GCI mobile Radar equipped with Soviet origin P-35 was stationed close to Amritsar airfield, but its location was interpreted through signal intercepts and calculated to be within a circle of probability of about 2 miles. Being a small pinpoint target, Amritsar radar was very difficult to hit with guns and rockets of F-86 aircraft. Incidentally, it was No 24 Sqn, which had earlier detected its approximate location and its type through repeated RB-57 ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) missions. The F-86 strike missions flown earlier were unsuccessful due to one or the other reasons and PAF had lost a very popular figure (Sqn Ldr Muniruddin Ahmed) to the heavy anti aircraft guns defending the radar. Sqn Ldr M Iqbal and Flt Lt G.A. Khan in their RB-57 flew a mission to determine the exact location of the site as the Indians had put dummy antennas around the actual position thus photos taken from RT 33 earlier were also of no help. During this mission, the RB-57 was hit by ground fire over the radar and returned home only with one engine, as the other engine had to be switched off in the air because of the damage sustained.
On 11 Sep 1965, Sqn Ldr M. Iqbal, the Sqn Cdr, along with brilliant navigator Flt Lt Saifullah Khan Lodhi, decided to practise their path finding role on a Pakistani radar. Lodhi was tasked to note the precise behaviour of received signal “lobe” depicted on the radar scope fitted in the back seat of the aircraft. It was decided that the practice mission be carried out on small PAF radar located at Rahwali, near Gujranwala. Due to lack of coordination and proper communication with the friendly radar, the ack-ack gunners at Rahwali were not aware of the practice attacks or perhaps they took their own B-57 aircraft for an enemy Canberra- the British version of B-57, which looked the same. In this misunderstanding, the gunners opened fire on their own B-57. The valiant crew tried to make desperate attempts to avoid the heavy ack-ack. The aircraft was hit; the pilot Sqn Ldr Iqbal ejected but was still fired upon and received the fatal bullet during parachute descent. Courageous Lodhi, who was glued to his radarscope, was monitoring the behaviour of received transmissions in the rear cockpit that was covered with curtain to darken the scope, had no chance, and went down with the aircraft. Luckily, the aircraft did not catch fire and after crash, his body was also retrieved. The martyrs’ bodies were brought by helicopter to the home base at Peshawar. Flt Lt Lodhi was posthumously awarded SJ and is now resting in his eternal abode at University town graveyard in his hometown, Faisalabad.
A Remarkable Coincidence: This is also a twist of fate that his date of birth and date of Shahadat happen to be the same.
Citation of Gallantry Award: “Flt Lt Saifullah Khan Lodhi was a navigator of exceptional ability and a completely dedicated officer. He possessed unusual skill, enthusiasm, and drive, which enabled him to make a valuable contribution towards operations. He undertook several operational missions most cheerfully and enthusiastically, invariably attaining outstanding results. It was on one such mission on 11 Sep 65 that he lost his life. For his extreme dedication to duty, Flt Lt Saifullah Khan Lodhi is awarded SJ.”
Family Details: Flt Lt Lodhi was unmarried. He had a sister named Shafqat Khanum, who also died recently, leaving behind a son Nosherwan Adil who is a businessman by profession and is settled in Karachi.