Keeping history alive (Pakistan Defence Day)
We seem to be somewhat negligent and careless when it comes to preservation of our heritage for posterity.
The few museums that we have can be counted on your fingertips but many of us do not even bother to visit them.
Had it not been surrounded by acres of immaculately-maintained lawns that pull hordes of city dwellers towards the soothing landscape; I confess that I would have remained oblivious of the PAF Museum located at the PAF Base Faisal in Karachi.
The lush green gardens are dotted with PAF exhibits (mostly planes), the museum built inside an actual hanger not just enriches you with national pride but also offers a fun area with rides and snacks.
Open seven-days-a-week, most people come here to squish the soft, thick grass under their feet while their children can play and roll around on the green.
My kids enjoyed their first close encounter with aeroplanes here and I have returned to the PAF Museum time and again as have scores of other people, many of them laden with picnic baskets.
After paying a small entry fee at the imposing gates, you are greeted by winding tracks beautifully bordered by bricked footpaths that give way to lawns which display various PAF planes, aviation equipment and ammunition well past their service days but so well-maintained that you feel they could fly off any time.
There are 32 aeroplanes in the museum, most of them displayed outside, with a few, like the Quaid-i-Azam’s Viking and the Indian Gnat captured in the 1965 war; displayed in the huge hanger converted into the museum building.
A bit of a longish walk will take you to this indoor museum unless you get side-tracked to the right where children’s swings and rides beckon the younger ones in your family. A detailed tour of the place is important, and anyone who hasn’t been to the museum/park should make the effort to spend enough time to explore, admire and study the exhibits.
The collection and display of Air Force items along with models of different aircrafts used internationally during the two World Wars is absolutely amazing.
Galleries line the sides of the hanger, while the centre houses aeroplanes. One of the galleries is devoted to aerial warfare, comprising both model planes and paintings of significant fighter planes from all over the world. There are galleries dedicated to heroes and martyrs of the 1965 and 1971 wars alongwith newspaper clippings and rare photographs that leave you awe-struck.
There are sections that display history and achievements of different squadrons, a gift shop and multimedia facility that gives all aspects of the PAF through a touch screen.
The museum would have housed much more if more serious thought was given to preserving our aviation heritage and not sending grounded and phased out aircrafts to breakers’ yards. The PAF museum was completed in August 14, 1997 to mark the country’s Golden Jubilee and is commendably a self-sustained project.