Air Marshal retired Asghar Khan, the first native commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), passed away at the age of 96 on Friday morning, Dawn online reported.
Khan, a former politician and a World War II veteran fighter pilot, was born in Jammu and Kashmir in 1921. He originally served as an officer in the British Indian Army. Khan was brought up in Srinagar as his father Brigadier Sardar Rehmatullah Khan served in the Maharaja’s army.
Khan, who became the youngest head of PAF at the age of 35, passed away after a long illness. His funeral prayers will be offered on Saturday in Abbottabad.
“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 Khan in a message posted on Twitter by military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, calling him “iconic”.
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 (PTI).
In 1996, Air Marshal Khan had filed a human rights petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, accusing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of doling out money to a group of politicians in the 1990s.