Jan 062018

Civil and military leaders attended the state funeral of Air Marshal retired Asghar Khan held at Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi on Saturday morning.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, and Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, as well as other serving and retired officials were among those in attendance.

His body was flown to Abbottabad in the afternoon where a second funeral was offered for the former chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

He was laid to rest in the Nawanshehr graveyard. A notification issued by the federal government said that the national flag would fly at half mast on Saturday to mark the passing away of the former PAF chief.

A leading political figure of yesteryear, Khan passed away at the Combined Military Hospital early on Friday morning after a long illness. He was 96.

Khan was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital on Dec 30 after his condition deteriorated, sources said. He was suffering from acute respiratory infection, dementia and ischemic heart disease.

He leaves behind his wife Amina Asghar Khan, his son Ali Asghar Khan and four siblings.

Asghar Khan: A soldier and an idealist politician

Born in 1921 to a Kashmiri family in Jammu and Kashmir, Khan received his early education from Aitchison College Lahore. He joined the Indian Air Force and secured commission in 1940. His remarkable dedication towards his profession was such that he was given the command of a squadron in World War II in 1945; he was the first Indian to get that charge in the British Indian Army.

He became the first native air chief of Pakistan at the age of 35. After his retirement from the PAF, he was appointed as chief of Pakistan International Airlines, bringing discipline and growth to the airlines. He was considered a good administrator for a growing organisation. But after staying in the PIA for some time, he quit it to join politics.

In 1970, Khan founded Tehreek-i-Istaqlal, a secular political party and contested elections. He lost the seat. In 2012, the party was merged with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

In March 2017, the PAF Academy in Risalpur was named after Khan as a tribute to the veteran.

Asghar Khan’s life was full of adventure — from a pilot to a politician and a writer. His views were too idealistic and could not find conformity with general political practices in Pakis­tan. He was a firm believer in democracy, honest political culture and natural justice.

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