ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Air Force Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan passed away in Islamabad on Friday, after protracted illness. The youngest commander of PAF died just 12 days before his 97th birthday on January 17.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi announced a state funeral for the former air chief in recognition of his services and great contribution to Pakistan Air Force.
President Mamnoon Hussain lauded Asghar "as an upright and brave man whose contributions towards national defence and Pakistan Air Force would be remembered for long."
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President Azad Jammu Kashmir Masood Khan, in his tweet, described the air marshal "as a man of principles, a zealous patriot and a great airman".
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa described him as "an iconic soldier who will be remembered for his historic contributions for laying foundations of a strong Pakistan Air Force”.
In his condolence message, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman said, "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."
COAS expresses his grief on sad 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.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) January 5, 2018
Pakistan Air Force renamed PAF Academy Risalpur after the commander in March 2017 as a mark of recognition.
Social media was flooded with tweets from politicians, former and present services chiefs and a huge fan base. They called air chief as an ‘Iron Man’, ‘brave, bold and gentleman’ and an ‘unsung legend’ and described his demise as a ‘great loss to the nation’.
Saddened to learn of Air Chief Marshal Asghar Khan's death early this morning. He transformed the PAF and was a man of steadfast principles and integrity. My prayers and condolences go to his family.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) January 5, 2018
He was also remembered as an ‘icon of professionalism, integrity and discipline’.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said, "He transformed PAF and was a man of steadfast principles and integrity."
Asghar was born in Jammu and Kashmir in 1921 in a family with distinctive military traditions. After completing his education at Aitcheson College, Lahore, he joined Royal Indian Air Force in December 1940. He was a World War II veteran fighter pilot and served in Burma.
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He served as the first Commandant of Royal Pakistan Air Force College, Risalpur after 1947. He also actively participated in Kashmir war between India and Pakistan which broke out immediately after the independence.
Asghar also had the honour of receiving the Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, on his maiden visit to Royal Pakistan Air Force Training School, Risalpur in April 1948.
At the age of 36, he became the youngest-ever Pakistani Commander-in-Chief of PAF in July 1957. He also served as president of Pakistan International Airlines and founded Tehreek-i-Istaqlal in 1970 that merged with the PTI in 2012.