Abdul Khaliq a.k.a Flying bird of Asia is the national hero of Pakistan. He won 100 gold medals in the national meets, 26 gold medals and 23 silver medals in the international arena. Unfortunately, most of us are unaware of his achievements. We know Milkha Singh from the movie bhag milkha bhag, but sadly we don’t know about our own national Hero.American president, Calvin Coolidge, once said,
“A nation that forgets its heroes will itself soon be forgotten.”
Abdul Khaliq was born in 1933 in Chakwal. He loved to play Kabaddi. On that time Brigadier Rodham was deputy chief of general staff and head of Army sports board. Rodham once sees Abdul Khaliq playing Kabaddi. He picked Khaliq from Kabaddi field and recruited him in Army and khaliq was awarded a rank of Sepoy. After partition, Khaliq became a part of Pakistan Army and Progressing through the various levels of army, he soon became the best in athletics in the country.
Khaliq appeared in his first international race in 1954 Asian Games where he astonished everyone by winning 100m race in just 10.6 seconds. By this achievement, he earned the title of “fastest man in Asia”. In 1956 first India-Pakistan athletics competition was held. There Khalid again amazed everyone by winning 100m race in 10.4 sec thus equalizing the timing of the gold medalist of 1952 Olympics. Seeing his outclass performance Prime minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru who was the chief guest of competition gave Khalid the title “Flying Bird of Asia”.
Later in World Military Games at Berlin, he won the 100m, 200m race and won bronze in a 400-meter race. In Tehran, he won the 100- and 200-metre gold medals. Khaliq won two events. Abdul Khaliq clocked 11.6 seconds in the 120 yards handicap, where he started from scratch. In 220 yards, he was too fast for the British runner. He beat Shenton, who ran a 22.0-sec race. Khaliq participated in the 3rd Asian Games in Tokyo. He defended his title in the 100 m race, by defeating Kyohei Ushio of Japan. Abdul Khaliq won 3 medals in the 3rd Asian Games. With Khaliq’s contributions, Pakistan secured 2nd position in Athletics and 6th in the overall rankings.Khalid participated in Olympics of 1956, where he easily passed through the first two rounds, but could not make to finals and was narrowly beaten to 4th place. In 200m race, Khalid astonishingly wins first two rounds in 21.2 sec the best time for 200m race in 1956 Olympics, but unfortunately could not make into finals and finished fourth in a photo finish. Even if he repeated the timings of the first two rounds, he would have won the semi-final because 21.1 seconds was the best time in those Olympics barring the final.
Khalid and Milkha Singh:In 1958 Milkha Singh made his first mark in the international scene in Tokyo, where he won the gold medal in 200 meters and 400-meter race. Khalid also participated in 200-meter race but Milkha Singh won with a close margin.
Khalid was a man of 100 meter while Milkha was a man of the 200-meter race. In 1960 International Athletics meet was held in Lahore. Khalid’s main rival in the event was India’s Milkha Singh. Newspapers and banners along the street in Lahore were describing it not only as a clash between these two athletes but as “a clash between Pakistan and India”. Milkha Singh went on to win that race while Khaliq took the bronze medal. Gen Ayub Khan gave the title to Mika Singh as “Flying Sikh”. Khaliq’s peak years were 1954-58. In 1960, he was past his best, while Milkha was at his best.Khaliq was taken as a prisoner in the 1971 war. When Milkha Singh came to know this, he visited Abdul Khaliq in Indian Jail. Milkha recalls this meeting with these words: “Tears appeared in the eyes of both.” The then Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi, even decided to release him but Khaliq refused and said he would like to be released with his countrymen. Khaliq was well looked after by the Pakistan army. His achievements on the track earned him out of turn promotions, and he retired in the rank of Honorary Captain
Our Forgotten Hero:India made their Hero Milkha Singh immortalized by making Bollywood film on him, but Pakistan left its hero supportless. Abdul Malik brother of Abdul Khaliq said that “I respect Milkha Singh a lot as he is a great human being… I was pained watching the movie,”. As a nation we should make if not a movie at least a biopic documentary on the life of Abdul Khaliq so that our youth get to know about their hero and get themselves motivated. After Khaliq no one from Pakistan qualified for Olympics and reason is obvious that those nations who forget it heroes will itself be forgotten.