Lahore: The Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation (TCICF) appreciates the highest civilian award, the Pride of Performance, conferred posthumously upon Group Captain (Rtd) Cecil Chaudhry, for his educational and rights based services towards the country by the government of Pakistan. The news of the award conferred by the President of Pakistan was announced by the Foundation on Friday.
Group Captain (late) Cecil Chaudhry served in the Pakistan Air Force for 28 years. During that period he achieved the highest level of professionalism and was one of the highest decorated officers of the Pakistan Air Force. He commanded the most prestigious fighter squadrons and set up some of the most influential fighter training schools of the Pakistan Air Force.
He fought the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 with great valor, for which he was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat (Star of Courage) one of the highest military awards of Pakistan, and the Sitara-e-Basalat (Star of Good Conduct) for distinguished acts of gallantry, valour and courage while performing duty.
After retirement from the Pakistan Air Force, Cecil Chaudhry went on to campaign for the rights of the marginalized in Pakistan. He fought non-violently for the rights of the downtrodden, especially the religious minorities, with bravery and determination to bring about change for the better.
When the joint electorates system succumbed to one of the darkest chapters of Pakistan’s history during General Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorial regime who imposed the separate electorate system on religious minorities, Cecil Chaudhry termed it, “religious apartheid” which promoted intolerance and served the purpose of ‘divide and rule’. He launched and led a campaign for the restoration of joint electorates. In 1999-2001, he called for a boycott of the local elections by the religious minorities, which was overwhelmingly successful. It took 14 long years of his life to have the joint electorates restored. A landmark achievement indeed!
In the field of education, his services were second to none. Despite numerous lucrative offers by various organizations and governments he chose to educate Pakistani children; to groom the leaders of tomorrow. He served as Principal St Anthony’s High School Lahore for 15 years and served as Principal St Mary’s Academy Lalazar Rawalpindi for four years. Both institutions excelled under his care and guidance, and for the first time in the history of these Institutions students attained top academic positions in examinations both locally and internationally.
He served on the Board of Governors of various Institutions such as the Forman Christian College Lahore, the Punjab Education Foundation and numerous others.
Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry passed away last year after a courageous battle against lung cancer.
Michelle Chaudhry daughter of Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry and President of The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation, stated, “We as a family stand humbled and honored, it is an extremely emotional yet a moment of great pride not only for the family of Cecil Chaudhry but for the nation at large and the religious minorities in particular. It is very rare for a person to be awarded with both, the highest military and the highest civil award. My father’s contributions towards Pakistan are phenomenal; not only did he defend the borders of this country with his life, but also played a pivotal role in its welfare and development.”