Zofia and Władysław Turowicz – Pakistanis By Choice

Mar 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: Latest, Pakistan, Social

I, the author of this memorial, am a 31 years old urban female who lives in a big developed capital city of the 18th wealthiest economy in the world and every single day I am fed with stories of blasts and bombings and picture of hostile Muslim world, especially Pakistan.

However I am an orientalist focused on East Asia and a traveller. So my mind embraces the core of the matter and not just the media image. Yet I humbly admit that I was always reluctant and afraid to go to Karachi or Islamabad having impression that I will be either abducted or killed in an ambush as a foreigner.

My surprise however was big when today on the radio I heard about the death and burial of Zofia Turowicz. Both she and her husband left Poland in 1939 to join the battlefield of the Second World War. The political changes on the map of Europe never allowed them to go back because Stalinist regime hunted down intellectuals and officers of pre-war independent Poland.  Mrs Turowicz or Turowiczowa how her last name is gendered in old-style Polish, was one of the first ever Pakistani gliding teachers who created gliding training programme, the basis for later military pilots, as early as in 1950. She stopped military career in 1957 and later worked at the American School and the University of Karachi where she taught applied mathematics and other core subjects.

Her husband Władysław Turowicz died in 1980 after long term career in Pakistani military aviation industry and forces. He came to Pakistan in 1948 and his wife joined soon after for the three-year contract with Pakistan Air Force which aimed to transform Pakistan Air Force into permanent and effective Air Force of the region. Turowicz set up technical institutes in Karachi. He taught and revitalized Pakistan Air Force Academy as its chief scientist. He initially led the technical training in the airbase and a part of the Polish specialists in the technical section in Karachi. However, they were transferred and accommodated in Peshawar.

In 1952, Turowicz, along with several Polish fighters, were promoted to the rank of Wing Commander. He was also promoted to the rank Lieutenant Commander when he became an Air Force Commander of Pakistan Air Force’s Chaklala Airbase. Promoted several times again along with other Polish Air Force general, became an Air Commodore and a Deputy Chief of Air Staff, in charge of Pakistan Air Force Training Department.

Turowicz was involved in building the face of what is called modern Pakistan. His service added to the pride of the new nation and likely added Polish sense of being statesman to the military and scientific personnel he trained over the years.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Turowicz along with other Polish pilots rose to prominence and fame as they helped in successfully defending Lahore and Pakistan. Turowicz, Squadron Leader Anotnii Zbigniew Jedryszek, and other Polish pilots were awarded the Sitara-e-Pakistan. Honorary Pakistani citizenship was also bestowed upon Turowicz, as well as, some other Polish pilots by the President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan.

Turowicz was actively and heavily involved in Pakistan’s space program. According to his close sources, Turowicz was passionate and fascinated with the Russian and American space program.  In 1966, the Government of Pakistan transferred him to SUPARCO, Pakistan’s national space agency, where he worked as a chief scientist and an aeronautical engineer. Together with noted Pakistani theoretical physicist, Dr. Abdus Salam, who later won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 convinced president Khan to launch space program for peaceful purposes. He was sure that Pakistan will develop rocket technology and launch its first satelite due course of time. He insisted on sufficient funds for research and development of this sector. His prediction came true, when 10 years after the death of Air. Mar. Gen. Władysław Turowicz, Pakistan launched its first indigenously developed experimental digital communication satellite from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, People’s Republic of China aboard a Long March 2E. His vision did come true but unfortunately, he wasn’t there to see it.

He successfully convinced the United States Government to invest and train Pakistan’s scientists in the field of rocket technology. He is widely credited with setting up the rocket fuel factories and rocket technology laboratories and research institutes in Pakistan. He was one of the chief designers  of Sonmiani Satellite Launch Centre.

He did not stop with Space Programme though. Turowicz initiated himself Nuclear weapons programme in 1970 and laid foundation of research and production that led to Pakistani independent source of Nuclear military potential.

His entire family lived in Pakistan ever since they have entered the country in 1948. His three daughters live in Pakistan and two of them married Pakistanis.

Zofia and Władysław Turowicz were partners both on the ground and in the air where she often joined him as a navigator during his flights. They both had independent military aviation careers before arrival to Pakistan and had been multiawarded and internationally recognised gliders and para shooters.

They are both buried at the catholic cemetery in Karachi in Pakistan and both had been awarded Pakistani citizenship.

Their story reminded me to watch the world with my own eyes and be even more curious and even more brave and less cuffed in the ready stereotypes I am being fed everyday by media and society.

Agnieszka Piasecka

About the author

Aga is a student of International Relations at the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, Poland. She had also been awarded with grants to perform research in Korea and has long term personal interest in East and South Asian contemporary socioeconomic and political affairs. She maintains a blog at www.coastalasiaunrevealed.blogspot.com.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment »

  1. Good to see some truth bout Pakistan

  2. So why is there all quiet here,,no comment from all those people who have so much hatred towards Pakistan and Pakistani’s?? Not all the nation can be regarded as a terrorist state just because you don’t find anyone else to blame for all the mass murdering that takes place in the world. You fight for racism and yet you have this stereotypical thinking towards Pakistan, well think again, because we are one of the Worlds pioneer nations who fought for Independence in the name of peace and justice for the Muslims of Sub Continent.
    Proud to be a Pakistani 🙂

  3. Proud to be Polish 🙂 You have not understood intentions of the author. Author herself – me – meant that deeper understanding and real open mind is needed for embracing the world. Besides I am friend’s with Pakistani guys and do not consider myself racist, I only frankly admitted that I was reluctant to go and visit them because I was afraid. And this is a story of this woman who lived there ever since which inspired me to go and stop being afraid.

  4. Aga! I salute you for writing this piece for Pakistan, which even most of us didnt know. We are obliged as Pakistanis and your blog is a breath of fresh air when there is so much negativity in the media about our country. Anyone who generalises terrorism with pakistan and pakistanis should read your piece. Salute to Aga, Salute to zofia and her husband, Salute to Poland!

  5. Aga this comment wasn’t directed towards you, it was for all those people who have so many harsh things to say about Pakistan.

  6. @ Mehreen, sorry for my misunderstanding 🙂 @ everyone thank you for kind comments 🙂

  7. A brilliant piece. Thank you Aga for telling us their story, else it would have been buried with them too. Lovely piece.

  8. wow! in my 20 years lifespan i never even heard of all this ! this is a fantastic piece written! @ author. they are heroes !

  9. My dear father was in the PAF and later PIA and as a child I had often heard the names of senior foreign pilots but it all got washed away in memory until I read your article. However I presume that this is just the “Tip of the Iceberg” and that we will be getting more posts from you soon! …….. God speed!

  10. Great Nation with poor administration .

  11. Polish officers have rendered great services for Pakistan Air Force. Indeed those were great times. Thanks for a very nice post aga.

  12. What a brilliant piece of work and that too from some one who is in Poland, I really really appreciate what you wrote Aga and can’t thank you enough…. Like others I’ll urge you to please keep writing, we all need change and your words could inspire many Pakistanis like me to do our bit…..stay blessed….

  13. It is a pleasure to know about this Polish Couple…Yes. People at first are frightened to come and visit Pakistan bcoz of all this Media propaganda . But this is not the real case…..I can say that there happen more crimes in US (like rapes etc,) then any other country……What i think is that we should not be stereotyped about a country or its people. Well written Column and even more worth that Our beloved Dr.Abdul Qadeer Khan has quoted it on Facebook……..Carry on good work Aga…………May Allah shower his Peace and Blessings on the Truthful persons…….

  14. its a great story …
    and great work by the author…

  15. Hi,,, dear Aga,

    it was amazing, and now i`m feeling very sorry that why i dont know about them before and why i was`nt get chance to met them, really it was a shaking story for me as being a patriotic Pakistani,,, who love the country and loves those who loved the country,,,,,,, really if there is any book or any other detail about Mr. & Mrs Turowicz please forward it to me and very special if you have the photographs it will be very wounder full for me,,,, and wanted to be in circle,,,,,,,,,,

  16. Welcome Aga! Come and feel the pleasure by yourself of being here.Enjoy hospitality and care of ours

  17. all i can say is that in a time wen everything seems so dark around us thank u aga 4 telling the world that pakistanis r also humans.thank u so much.

  18. Dear Readers and Friends,
    after I accomplish my research paper for one of the journals and it’s deadline is due March 8, I will certainly dig up some more. I am also sure that you may inquire at the Embassy of Poland in Islamabad. I was also thinking about making a documentary about Polish who chose to be Pakistani after the WWII, but this project I have to reschedule for summer 2013 unfortunately, because I need to graduate first and make sure I get my Ma position where I target to go.

  19. Dear Aga,

    Thank you for this imformative memmorial-untill you brought it out no one knew about these heroes. I am an accountant, a teacher and an avid reader of world affairs. In short, this story of extreme devotion to one’s purpose made my day! Thank you again and keep up the great work you are doing!

  20. Very interesting article, very well researched. You have brought alive the contribution of so many Polish persons to the making of Pakistan. I met her a few times and will say she had much to be proud of, but she was an extremely modest lady. Good luck in your future endeavours.

  21. I always believe in the true spirits and genuine efforts of people spending a highly motivated and purposeful life. Polish couple feels closer to heart and gives more warmth upon knowing thier contributions and life they spent in Pakistan. Freedom we love, respect we offer and regards we pass for people choosing our beloved country .. !!

  22. Dear Aga, I am Zofia and Wladyslaw’s granddaughter, and my family and I are all very touched and proud to come across this article. Thank you for writing this. Kindest regards, Romana Ahmad

  23. P.S – Regarding your plans for a documentary, my family and I would be happy to help with any information you need. My email address is romana.ahmad@yahoo.com. I am also trying to track dvds of documentaries previously made about my grandparents – would you know where I could obtain copies?

  24. Great article and very informative. I certainly did not know that polish pilots had served in the Pakistan airforce. Thanks for posting it. I would love to know more so keep up the good work.

  25. Well researched and Beautifully written piece.I completely agree on biased Media feeds. its the politics of power that moulds perceptions. one deserves to know the truth by own experience and not by what capitalistic TV channels have to say.

  26. Aga,
    Thank you for this invaluable article about our extraordinary countrymen. I am Polish, too, and speaking frankly, if I had not read a short article about Zofia Turowicz on the occasion of her death a few days ago, I would not know anything about her, and I would not have found your blog. It would be great to see a documentary about Mr. and Mrs. Turowicz. I am looking forward to it!

    There is an interesting video on youtube about Polish pilots who got famous in the WWII, especially fighting in the Battle of Britain. For those interested there is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptijNcDanVw (in English) – an episode from the “Bloody Foreigners” series of drama-documentaries highlighting the role played by foreigners in British history.

    To our Pakistani friends – people who watch and listen only to mainstream media tend to think stereotypically, those who put some effort into digging deeper do not share the manipulated views on the world.
    If people all over the world had open minds, were inquisitive and not naive, then we would not have all those stereotypes. Unfortunately, when we look around, this wish seems to be just ‘wishful thinking’.

  27. Aga ! It’s the matter of immense pleasure for whole the nation that you enlighten this story of a honorable polish couple. you’ve bestowed upon us an honor for which we (people of Pakistan) can’t adequately thank you. love is only the tool to win this nation. I’m living in Islamabad and feel insecure going to Karachi and that’s because of our media . I appreciate your conceren . keep it up .

  28. Thanks to Dr Qadeer.Thanks Aga Hope you will continue to write about great couple who spent their whole life in Pakistan to build Pakistan and never want to take any credit.
    great WOW. Great peoples are always like them

  29. Nice work Aga.. Keep going:) Cheers

  30. i have not even a single word t say on this post.
    i am speechless AGA.

  31. Thanks guys. My pleasure 🙂

  32. An eye opener

  33. It was until now a hidden truth which most of Pakistani didn’t know. Thanks to Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan who posted ur blog on his FB page & let us know about this all. U doing such a wonderful work & here I would just like to advice you; whenever, whatever you r working on, reveal the facts instead of making it biased. That is how people went famous among world for their positive thinking. I have gone through this & found that u revealed the truth. Bravo, Congrats for the grant with respect to research work…. & best of luck for your research work in Korea….

  34. Aga, check this page on facebook. Your article has received an overwhelming response. Thanks for sharing with us what our biased media never did.

  35. Really interesting read. Thank you, Aga.

  36. Thank you Aga, we owe you mame for such a nice article and feel ashamed that being Pakistani we did not know about the great services renedered by our polish friends.

  37. dziękuję Aga 🙂

  38. Hats off to the writer

  39. Guys thank you again so much 🙂 Today I am resting. My next post will likely be a short tribute to those who climbed Gasherbrum I just today- my hat off to them. Thank you for supporting me in my endavours. Yesterday I had submitted a research paper I worked over for more than 6 weeks, hope it will be accepted.

    Dear Family Members of Mrs Turowicz, thank you for your support, I will email you very soon and will start making my plans and research for 2013.

    Yes I will be blogging 🙂

  40. […] o Zofii i Władysławie Turowiczu: – Zofia and Wladyslaw Turowicz – Pakistanis by choice – Chwała polskich orląt większa niż Himalaje – O Władysławie Turowiczu na pakistańskim forum […]

  41. dear Aga ,
    its a treat to read ur work , bravo
    im from pakistan and i bet , the day ull land in pakistan at islamabad or karachi or for that matter lahore , ull see for urself the lies and bullshit media feeds to all around that world ,
    the freemeasons , illuminati and zionists have their own agendas and the only thing they tareget is muslim world since they exactly know they cant bring this part of the world on its knees with out spoiling their tredations , economy , and repute .
    well neway , long story cut short , im soo happy that someone out there , n so young is after all using her brain unlike all europeans and trying to find out truth and facts by her self instead of listening and blindely believing into stereo type mis-information being fed everyday just to mis-lead the masses where it suits them .
    may God be with u and bless u always

  42. @ sherry
    I must admit I have some Jewish ancestors (among Polish, German, Russian and Tatar) but nevertheless I understand you.
    You need to also understand that people in the West are sometimes scared, after all they have reasons.

    I must tell you about one personal encounter too. When I lived in Netherlands I got interested in the website of Al-Fourqaan mosque in Eindhoven. I wanted to know why it was all in Arabic and naively emailed the people behind it asking about it, that I am sure people would be interested to know what the mosque has to offer. The guy named Khalid El Hassnoui emailed me back saying that he is working over English version of the website. The same day my IP was blocked and I had access denied message from the website of the mosque. I ignored this as it was not any of my priorities and long years later by chance I learned who that Khalid El Hassnoui dude really was.

    In short: image in the media should be real, and should not be sugarcoated in any way, I neither believe in only negative images of muslim world or Pakistan for that matter, nor I will be ever convinced that you do not have FATA problems or some tribal linkages to hostile groups.

    It doesn’t change the fact that I respect your opinion. However I may disagree with looking for conspiracy everywhere I shall defend your right to thinking what you are convinced is real. Regards from the author 🙂

  43. Aga,
    Good luck! if you want to find “the real, not sugarcoated image” in the mainstream media (owned mostly by corporations). To decide what is conspiracy and what is not, people should listen to and watch independent media. What a difference! You do not feel like turning on your TV anymore.
    I can recommend http://www.democracynow.org – a United States daily, nonprofit, independently syndicated program of news, analysis, and opinion – very objective. It broadcasts both domestic and world news. I watch it daily.


  44. This guy was one of the pioneers of Pakistan Space and Missile Program. He was the chief engineer in 70s tasked to make solid fuel booster. He used his influence to get solid booster technology from various communist countries. The man is a hero of Pakistan.

  45. Dear Aga
    Thanks for bringing too much information to light, I appereciate your efforts and approach to assesment.

  46. I was aware of this story a few years back but have only just learned (thanks to your great Article Aga) that this lady has passed away. Thanks for doing your bit for change! 🙂

    A Pakistani pilot in Poland :p

  47. Hey NJ- thanks for nice words 🙂

  48. Hi Aga,

    This blog post of yours is cited heavily in this English Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan%E2%80%93Poland_relations

    Do you have any citations or references for the research you did for this post? I am trying to clean up the Wikipedia article and would appreciate any help you could give.


  49. Hi Aga,
    I have been reading a lot about Air Com. Władysław Turowicz and his work for our country, Now I know a documentary has been filmed on him but can’t find it nor do I know its title so I may search it, So if you have any links of it to share or know its title plz let me know…………
    And and how can I forget, Thank you very much for bringing such personalities into lime light as they dedicated all their lives for our country…………:D

  50. Honored! After a very very long time in my life, I feel being Pakistani makes me feel proud. How one man can change the face of technology with his family for entire nation! I landed this page looking for “usual thinking of Poles about Pakistanis” and I think I get my query answered here.

    Zofia and Władysław Turowicz must have faced the blues of our culture as they flew here on a mission, however, their choice to be Pakistanis couldnt have been enforced. Its the biggest example of how nations can work together to make it a better world, unlike of this is seen now a days. Aga, I love what you have done here and totally respect their efforts in front of you as a Pakistani.

  51. Guys, it’s been a while since I visited this article. Thank you for all the nice comments and I promise to ocassionally go back to the story if I have a chance.

  52. Dear Aga,

    Wow!! This story is so unreal. The story hits home for me.

    I am Pakistani decent and my wife is Polish decent. We met and go married in Chicago and currently reside outside of San Francisco in the bay area. We have been married for the last 18 years and have 4 children. My family goes to Poland almost every year, especially in the last few years because grandma cannot handle long flights to U.S. anymore. I just came back last Sunday (my family is still there) after two weeks in Gdansk. We’ve also visited Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz, Czestochowa and other beautiful site. It is very impressive to see Poland which is a very clean country despite of poverty.

    That’s enough from me. Just like the previous blogger, I’d like to know how to get a hold of the documentary movie on Wladyslaw Turowicz (either Polish or English).

    Would it be possible to get Wladyslaw living family contact information? (in my private inbox) It could also be any community organization they belong to either in Europe or Asia . Me and my wife would love to meet them.

    Please advice.

    Again, thank you for sharing the story.

  53. […] http://www.mybitforchange.org/2012/zofia-and-wladyslaw-turowicz-pakistanis-by-choice/ […]

  54. Hay aga brilliant… I have been searching for W J M TUROWICZ so that i could know more about him.. know about his family, coz he was very close to my grand dad , he was a very good friend to him, often used to talk abt him… my grand dad died in 2005,he was an army doctor … all i want to know more about W J M TUROWICZ.., and would it be possible to get WJM TUROWICZ living family contact information?(in my private inbox) i would like to meet them..
    thankyou, for sharing information…

  55. Alhamdollillah the W J M Turowisz and his wife Zofia were not only the sons and daughters of Poland but also Pakistan. They served with total devotion and love
    for their new country Pakistan. Truly inspiring – may Allah bless their soul.

  56. From the documents I inherited on his death, I have learned that my father, Michal Kulagin, served in the PAF.
    I would be grateful to receive any information or pictures you have.

  57. It was surprising to my Polish friend in Poznan when I told historical relation of Poland with Pakistan and raising of Pakistan Air Force by late Mr. Turowisz to which every Pakistani is proud of. At the present stage where Pakistan Air Force is standing, the foundation was laid by that great man and article by Aga gives only a glimpse whereas raising space programme of Pakistan by establishing SUPARCO is also a glaring example of that great genius.

  58. Someone asked here about the documentary of Turowicz family – here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMXwsyVoko0

    I also heard that Pakistani TV shows it time to time.

  59. I am an Indian and find the story very interesting. It was reproduced only now in October 2016 in the scroll.in, an independent website in India.

    (a) Pratap Bhanu Mehta , a leading Indian liberal intellectual, recently drew attention in the “Indian Express”, to there existing in Pakistan , “a certain capacity to turn national humiliation into a new resolve”. This happened after 1971 and even earlier, it now appears, when it began life with so many weaknesses in 1947. Pakistan had less revenue sources, and high defence expenditure. Nehru and Patel reportedly thought that Pak would soon return to the fold of undivided India as a prodigal. That never happened. Sadly, Pak embraced alliance with the West and the US proving true the prophecy of Maulana Azad that Partition would lead to foreign interference in pakistan. (During the september 1946 election to Sind Provincial Assembly in what was still British India, Nehru addressed a public meeting at Sukkur in Sind where he said much the same thing.

    (b) In any case, I am hopeful that Pak has the cultural resources to recover and reclaim a place for itself. WE all need to acknowledge the resilience exhibited by Pakistan to an extent , as exemplified in this recruitment of European soldiers and so on. It resembles, on a smaller scale, US feat in getting Einstein, Fermi, Bethe and other scientists on to the Manhattan Project.

    (c) The present times seem very uncongenial to say this. But we need to get an Indo-Pak reconciliation and lay foundations for a larger South Asian union. Even though the two-nation theory has no legitimacy, given that Hindus and Muslims live together in every village in India. We Indians do accept the reality of Pakistan today. It is the anglo-saxon gorachamdas who created the problems between us.

  60. What a great story, Aga. I used to pass by the monument (Christian cemetery) dedicated to
    the Polish refugees that died in Pakistan and served during the 2nd world war. This is a very interesting
    article, something we all should know and you have brought it out. Great job and thanks.


Leave Comment