Asghar Khan a true role model for future generations

Khalid Butt

DURING my long and eventful career both in journalism, public affairs and notably with the national airlines (PIA), I came across many famous and worthy personalities but some undoubtedly stand on top of list.
Among them undoubtedly remain two remarkable icons of Pakistan Air Force, namely Air Marshal Asghar Khan and Air Marshal Nur Khan, who would always be remembered for their unparalleled and worthy traditions set by them. Both in their professional careers and conduct to set new and everlasting high standards in their administrative handling of their various assignment held by them.
Asghar Khan, as everyone knows was the first Pakistan officer to become the youngest ever Chief of Pakistan Air Force and after holding a couple of tenures moved over to PIA.
However, he had the satisfaction of leaving behind a completely reorganized, highly motivated and superbly trained PAF which was to stand the test in the coming 1965 War, against India within few months. That is perhaps all known and part of history but perhaps very little is known or talked about what he did to transform PIA during his brief but eventful stay with the national airline.
It is at that time, I came in touch with him first introduced by my boss late Omar Kureishi, and interacted with the new Chief with aplomb of his, own way and style of working to achieve results.
PIA, with the arrival of Asghar Khan, went through a major expansion of introducing over a dozen new stations in US, Europe and Middle East and also introduction of a new fleet of Trident Aircraft.
Almost immediately, Dubai, Doha and Bahrain came on line as also Moscow and later New York to transform PIA into much talked about airline in the world. It was at that time, when a renowned British journalist in a prominent London daily published a story asking Chairman BOAC, “Kindly meet and ask PIA Chief Asghar Khan who is in London, how to run a good airline”.
However, Asghar Khan, despite his best efforts was uneasy with the Ministry of Defence and some elements in the Ayub regime, who did not like his, success.
It was a sad day to see him leave quite suddenly and subsequently began another era in PIA, under a new PIA Chief S.U. Durrani a banker by President Ayub Khan.
However all these years Asghar Khan, was always graceful and met me and other colleagues most cordially. One only wish and hope that had he stayed a little more in PIA, the state and future of national airline would have been quite different from its current dismal state.
Ever since my return to Lahore, my contact with Asghar Khan, have been rare except for once when he came here to launch his book. But, he like always was most graceful and asked about my current activities.
But the thoughts which come to my mind are that how come people like him and late Nur Khan, have become scarce or perhaps non-existent who can be counted for their utmost integrity, devotion and qualities of leadership to be followed by others.
I would like to convey my deep condolence to Begum Asghar Khan, son Ali Khan and other members of the family on this great loss.

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