Pakistan Honors First Female Pilot Following Fatal Jet Crash

AFP PHOTO/ Pakistan Air Force
AFP PHOTO/ Pakistan Air Force

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar, the nation’s first female fighter pilot, died in a training crash in Kundian, which is located 109 miles southwest of Islamabad.

“Flying Officer Marium embraced martyrdom and became the first lady pilot from PAF to attain this great honour,” stated the PAF.

Mukhtiar was only one of 20 female fighter jet pilots in Pakistan. The PAF started to accept females for combat roles in 2006.

Squadron Leader Saqib Abbasi flew the PAF FT-7PG during the training mission when it “encountered an in-flight emergency.”

“Both pilots handled the emergency with professionalism and courage and tried to save the aircraft till the last minute, ensuring safety of property and the civilian population on the ground,” continued the PAF.

Both pilots ejected, but Mukhtiar succumbed to her wounds in the hospital. Abbasi received minor injuries.

The air force laid her to rest at the Karachi air force base.

Others in Pakistan shared tributes online for Mukhtiar.

Mukhtiar spoke with the BBC about her career in the air force, which is dominated by males. She told the outlet the “pomp” inspired her to join, but she also “wanted to do ‘something different.'” Her mom showed concern over the choice but provided much needed support.

Her mother spoke to the media after Mukhtiar’s funeral.

The PAF inducted their first female pilots in 2006 when four women graduated among 36 cadets. They spent three years training at the academy in Risalpur. General Ahsan Saleem Hayat happily informed the audience that the “air force had taken the lead to induct women in the combat units of the armed forces.”

Tragedy has hit Pakistan’s military other times this year. In May, a helicopter with diplomats crashed, killing seven people. Ambassadors from Norway and the Philippines were aboard the aircraft. An air ambulance crashed in August, “killing 12 people.”


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