From the air to the ground, remembering ‘ Pilot Nadeem Khateeb ‘

Pilot Nadeem Khateeb – Brought up in one of the poshest suburbs of Kashmir, Rawalpora. Educated in the cities best school, Tyndal Biscoe. Nadeem was a graduate in geology, geography and economics. In 1994 he attended a flight training school in Georgia, united states and joined the same school as a staff flying instructor. At the young age of 30 the son of a former chief engineer left his dream life in the US as a professional, from the runways of US he chose to take another path by foot.

Nadeem was described as a person “who watched from the sidelines” as protests raged in his motherland Kashmir. One of his closest friends Ishfaq Majeed Wani grew up to be a commander of the resistance group JKLF ( Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front ) one of the many resistance organizations who share the same goal of attaining “freedom” from the oppression of the Indian occupation, took up the armed struggle and attained martyrdom in 1990. Nadeem never talked about joining the ranks of the militants says his father.

Engaged to a girl who was his relative, he was reluctant to marry, no body knew why, maybe he was trying to focus on his career but his leaving the US to take up the armed struggle explains it all.

After being in the US for many years, a close friend explains it thus: ‘‘He used to brood a lot on the US exploitation of the Muslim countries. He said that after being in the US for so many years, his eyes had finally opened”.  He read a book by Syed Qutb who also spent time in the US analyzing the western world. “His faith strengthened so much, he wouldn’t talk of anything else. He was convinced that if he died in Jihad, he would be rewarded on judgement day.’’

It came to light that Nadeem joined the militant faction al-badr for arms training in Kashmir, before crossing the line of control to face his enemy.

Assuming that their son was still in the united states ‘‘He would call us and tell us he was fine. How would we know where he was calling from? We thought he was in the US’. The Khateebs, on their part, are satisfied about the options  their son made, despite the harassment their other son Waseem faced and the effects on their business. His mother states ‘‘I have no regrets. I have absolute faith that my son was a martyr and is thus alive’’, ‘‘Whenever I am alone, I feel his presence. When I stand up on the prayer meet, I feel him next to me. He was always his mother’s boy”.

In 1999, Six months short of his 32nd birthday, Nadeem Khateeb embraced martyrdom in a fierce encounter. His body had been laid to rest in Buthan village but it was exhumed and brought to Srinagar martyrs graveyard at Eidgah 10 days later by his family.

Nadeem was a role model  in terms of worldly success who sacrificed his bright future and career, leaving his luxurious life for the sake of his beliefs and freedom. The legacy he left behind must question every one who knew of  him, why would someone in his position after so much hard work and progress all of a sudden leave everything? There must have been something he saw, even though he always watched on the “sidelines”, a flame sparked inside him which eventually turned into a blazing fire.

Surely, those in favor of freedom, agree that Pilot Nadeem Khateeb Shaheed deserves a salute.

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