PM approves State funeral
Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan, the first native commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Air Force, passed away at the age of 96 on Friday morning in Islamabad, a spokesperson of the PAF said in a statement.
Air Marshal (Retd) Muhammad Asghar Khan was admitted in intensive care unit of the CMH on December 30, 2017 as he was suffering from lungs problem.
Khan, who became the youngest head of PAF at the age of 35, passed away after a long illness. He was undergoing treatment for a chest infection at the Combined Military Hospital in Rawalpindi.
His funeral was held at Chaklala Air Base later Friday. On Saturday his funeral will be hel at Abbottabad Nawa Shahar Ground at 10 a.m. after which he will be laid to rest in his hometown Nawa Shahar.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi approved the State Funeral for former Air Marshal Asghar Khan in recognition of his services to the nation, the PM Office announced Friday.
He approved State Funeral “in recognition of patriotic services and great contribution in building the Pakistan Air Force into one of the best air forces in the world.”
Khan was born on January 17, 1921, in Jammu and Kashmir. In 1940, he graduated from the Royal Indian Military College Dehra Dun, and in the same year, Khan was hired as the Commissioned Officer at the 9th Royal Deccan Hours.
In 1944, Khan served as a flight commander in Burma and later took part in the Burma war. Moreover, he was also designated the charge to carry out air strikes at the Japanese army. In 1945, Khan was made the squadron leader. He went to Britain in 1946 and was trained in flying jet aircraft.
After the inception of Pakistan, Khan rendered administrative duties at the Pakistan Air Force College Risalpur. He welcomed Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on his arrival in Risalpur. Khan was made the group captain in 1949, and in the same capacity, he undertook the charge of air operations.
He was awarded by the Royal Airforce Staff College Britain for his exceptional performances. Khan was made the Air Vice Marshal in 1957 at the age of 36, and in 1958 became Air Marshal and was awarded Hilal Quaid-e-Azam and Hilal Pakistan accolades.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the death of Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan. Paying tribute to his services for the country, he prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and grant of courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss with fortitude.
“Air Marshal Asghar Khan headed the PAF diligently and with courage. With his leadership capabilities, he played a vital role in transforming the PAF into a modern air force,” Air Marshal Sohail Khan was quoted as saying in PAF’s press release.
“Air Marshal Khan had [a] good character, great commitment and professional capability,” he added.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to the late fighter in a message posted on Twitter by military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, calling him “iconic”.
“COAS expresses his grief on demise of ex Air Chief, Air Marshal Asghar Khan, retired. An iconic soldier who will be remembered for his historic contributions for laying foundations of a strong Pakistan Air Force. May Allah bless his soul. Amen.”
In March 2017, the PAF Academy in Risalpur was named after Khan as a tribute to the veteran. In the era of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the former head of the PAF spearheaded a movement with the intent to have Zulfikar Ali Bhutto released from jail.
He also served as the president of Pakistan International Airlines. In 1970, Khan founded Tehreek-i-Istaqlal, a secular political party. In 2012, the party was merged with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
Asghar Khan joined politics after his retirement from the Air Force, playing a major role in opposition to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto from 1971 to 1977.
During the 1977 elections, Khan allied his party, the Tehreek-i-Istiqlal with the Pakistan National Alliance against the People’s Party.