'When a pilot embraces martyrdom, you only find ashes'

Published: November 25, 2015
PAF Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar. PHOTO: ONLINE

PAF Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: “When a pilot embraces martyrdom, you only find the ashes, not the pilot,” these were one of the last words that pilot Marium Mukhtiar said to her father a day before she died on Tuesday.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) flying officer was telling her father over the phone that she had finally become a pilot when she said these words. Two days later, the grieving father recalled these words next to her final resting place.

Female co-pilot dies as training jet crashes in Mianwali

Marium’s father, Colonel (retd) Mukhtiar Ahmed, was employed with the armed forces and recalls her to be a brave child. After she graduated from NED University, she expressed her wish to join the armed forces as a GD pilot, he said. Since he had worked in the armed forces, Ahmed knew it would not be easy and told his daughter as much. Resilient as she was, Marium refused to back down and eventually her father gave in.

“I had told her from the start that I would not apply any source or coercion to help in her career but she proved her mettle and managed to achieve her goal of becoming a pilot on her own,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune.

Even as they buried her, the family was proud the 24-year-old girl sacrificed her life for the country. “I always asked her to become a hero,” her mother, Rehana, recalled. “She always told me that she could not become a hero but she can become a ‘heroine’, she added.

PAF loses first female pilot in crash

Marium is the first PAF flying officer to have died during a mission. Her trainer jet, FT-7PG aircraft, crashed near Kundian, Mianwali, on Tuesday afternoon. Squadron Leader Saqib Abbasi, who was on the same flight, suffered injuries in the accident.


Marium was laid to rest with full military honour on Wednesday afternoon after her funeral prayers were offered after Zuhr prayers in Malir Cantonment. In addition to a large number of family members, relatives and colleagues, PAF Air Vice Marshal Usaidur Rehman, Karachi Corps Commander Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar and Rangers director-general Major General Bilal Akbar also attended the funeral.

Earlier, her funeral prayers were also offered at Faisal Air Base after her flag-draped coffin was flown on a military C-130 plane from Mianwali. The body was received by PAF Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and other officers. Squadron Leader Atiqur Rehman led the funeral prayers.

PAF Fighter plane crashes near Mastung

She was laid to rest at the military graveyard in Malir Cantonment. “The nation will never forget Mariums’ great sacrifice,” said Air Chief Marshal Aman. “No one can defeat a nation that has daughters like Marium.”

Corps commander Mukhtar also said that Marium has made everyone proud. “She is an example for the nation’s daughters,” he said.

Marium was born on May 18, 1992, in Karachi where she received her education. She was the second eldest among her two siblings – a brother and a sister. She joined PAF on May 6, 2011, and graduated on September 24, 2014.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2015.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (29)

  • Mrs HighBall
    Nov 26, 2015 - 5:14AM

    Let’s get this straight, her death per se was not the result of “embraces martyrdom” but rather she was an unfortunate casualty of doing her job, and that, during a training exercise and not on a ‘holy war mission’.Recommend

  • KK Kool
    Nov 26, 2015 - 9:11AM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    Please reflect upon how many kinds of ‘martrydom’ are there? Before ridiculing anyone, you must be knowledgeable. People like you are a source of great discouragement to this nation.Recommend

  • Mrs HighBall
    Nov 26, 2015 - 10:58AM

    @KK Kool:
    Exactly how many definitions of “martyrdom” are there, and, keep in mind, the original sense of the term as per the holy scriptures ?Recommend

  • hope
    Nov 26, 2015 - 11:11AM

    Pakistan salutes Marium Shaheed.Recommend

  • Ramesh
    Nov 26, 2015 - 1:17PM

    The security paranoia of Pakistan has claimed one more life.Recommend

  • Puzzled
    Nov 26, 2015 - 1:35PM

    Can someone investigate what happened with the aircraft and who is responsible for it?Recommend

  • HonkyTonk Man
    Nov 26, 2015 - 2:34PM
  • Sadiq
    Nov 26, 2015 - 2:55PM

    @Mrs.High Ball you said She was doing her job, correct. During a training exercise, correct as well. Now tell me what was she doing all that for? To get trained so that if the nation ever need her she is there to extend her selfless services. So, in anticipation of achieving that if she lost her life she would be entitled for that honour i-e ‘Martyrdom’. And Allah knows best.Recommend

  • Dija
    Nov 26, 2015 - 3:10PM

    I had already made a comment but somehow the ET did not publish it – again I would stress the Nation salutes your great sacrifice young lady-rest in peace AMEEN!Recommend

  • ed
    Nov 26, 2015 - 3:49PM

    @Mrs HighBall – I wish Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar was my sister or daughter. As for you, I feel sorry for acquaintances.Recommend

  • Nov 26, 2015 - 3:49PM

    Allah may grant highest place to this girl in Jannah.the poor girl was a victim of training exercise not enemy action.no one names the poor FC soldier or policemen who die actually fighting terrorists but all eugolising services of someone traing to be a pilot making them into celebrities.hypocrisy being practiced at national level.has anyone ever tried to find the story of the nameless men who die fighting defending us from terrorists.Recommend

  • Dija
    Nov 26, 2015 - 4:51PM

    @Mrs Highball – I think a normal person can only feel sorry for people who think like you Mrs Highball – our prayers and blessing are with Ms Marium-she will always remains in our thoughts and prayers! Recommend

  • Mrs HighBall
    Nov 26, 2015 - 6:02PM

    In no way am I discounting the sadness and deep sense of loss thru her death. But, by the logic of your comment, every enlisted armed forces personnel is considered Shahadat no matter how they would eventually lose their lives by virtue of their career choice..?! Now that’s a stretch.Recommend

  • Pa[k]triot
    Nov 26, 2015 - 6:26PM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    You are imply a disgrace to humanity. Pathetic. Sick mind.Recommend

  • Pakistani Sindhi
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:01PM

    Marium, a brave Sindhi lady who gave her life for Pakistan. Recommend

  • Pakistani Sindhi
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:06PM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    Please do us a favor, and spare the rest of us by keeping your unethical remarks to yourself only!Recommend

  • Sarfaraz Abbasi
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:08PM

    Security paranoia of your country risks lives of tens of your soldiers every year on Siachan! Recommend

  • IronLady1892
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:10PM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    There are a number of classifications of martyrs in the light of Hadiths. Please go through them. For now, I’ll post one of them in the current context.
    “Whoever leaves his house in the way of Allah then dies or is killed is a shaheed, whether his horse or camel tramples him, or a venomous animal stings him, or he dies in his bed, or in any kind of death Allah wills, truly he is a shaheed and shall have Paradise.” (Sunan Abi Dawud and al-Hakim.)Recommend

  • Walsh
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:42PM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    Are you a religious scholar? No. Do you have sufficient knowledge under what conditions she lost her life? No. Are you someone who has significant knowledge of Islamic history? I highly doubt it,try reading the story of Fatima Bint-e-Abdullah, an Arab girl. There is also a poem by Dr Allama Iqbal regarding this brave girl. Please get yourself educated and if you are an Indian, there are certain things in which we have to show regard & respect for the other community`s feelings. Under the above pretext you have no right to pass a judgement. These Maryums are the pride of the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC of PAKISTAN. Recommend

  • Walsh
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:46PM

    @KK Kool:
    I highly doubt it that people like her are a part of this Pakistani nation. In all honesty after seeing her comments I have my apprehensions about him/her being a Pakistani. Don`t stress over it mate. Recommend

  • salman
    Nov 26, 2015 - 11:23PM

    why no one is talking about the condition of 40 years old planes like F7s or Mirages. Their attrition rate is horrendous and have result in too many crashes lately. So many PAF pilots have died with these junks and seems like Defense ministry and top PAF officials doesn’t give a heck about it. We have ONLY managed to include 55 JF17s in our inventory which is quite a shame.Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    Nov 27, 2015 - 12:08AM

    RIP Marium Mukhtiar, nation should not forget your courage and services. You are inspiration to other young girls.Recommend

  • her coursemate
    Nov 27, 2015 - 12:18AM

    @mrs highball ….. when ur child will die like this than i will ask u….. yes we choose this profession bcoz we have a courage to sacrifice our life for our country not a keyboard jihadist like you ….people like u just know how to discourage others….. we know that our aircraft are like flying coffins but still we manage n dare to fly it….. we will not stop n will fly and fight for our country and countryman till our last blood drop….. u can’t discourage us …… we know people like u are paid and we know from whom u get paid…. IA soon u will see days like her parents are facing ….. Recommend

  • her coursemate
    Nov 27, 2015 - 12:20AM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    ….. when ur child will die like this than i will ask u….. yes we choose this profession bcoz we have a courage to sacrifice our life for our country not a keyboard jihadist like you ….people like u just know how to discourage others….. we know that our aircraft are like flying coffins but still we manage n dare to fly it….. we will not stop n will fly and fight for our country and countryman till our last blood drop….. u can’t discourage us …… we know people like u are paid and we know from whom u get paid…. IA soon u will see days like her parents are facing ….. Recommend

  • Assad
    Nov 27, 2015 - 2:14AM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    Respectfully, the task of defending a Muslim nation by default grants one the rank of a martyr when he/she dies during training, guarding or fighting. In addition, the rank of a martyr can even apply to one who dies of a famine or while defending his/her family against bandits etc.

    At the end of the day you have to consider why she is training for.Recommend

  • Pakistani Dude
    Nov 27, 2015 - 3:43AM

    Kindly take heed and stop using non-state actors to create turbulence in your neighboring countries so that the ‘security paranoia’ in the region can decrease. Recommend

  • Nov 27, 2015 - 3:48AM

    Dear Express Tribune

    The article: “When a pilot embraces martyrdom, you only find ashes” by Faraz Khan published in ET on November 25, 2015 is a lovely mix of emotional farewell to a pilot who was a symbol of progress and increasing gender equality in Pakistan.

    I would also take the opportunity to say that Pakistani media and public is going berserk in calling Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar as “Shaheed”, proud daughter of Pakistan and many other bombastic titles.
    No doubt she became the first lady pilot in PAF but to say that she embraced martyrdom is wrong. She died in tragic circumstances and not fighting an enemy, so why to call her Shaheed. It is a very strange development in Pakistan that people dying in road accidents,by terrorism or in fighting between police and militant extremists, all are now Shaheed. Why?

    Kind regardsRecommend

  • stevenson
    Nov 27, 2015 - 4:59AM

    @salman: Many nations still use serviceable older planes. You don’t understand that the life of a pilot is inherently dangerous all over the world. PAF pilots are among the most skilled in the world regardless of whether it is an older aircraft type or a newer fighter jet like the JF 17. Statistics from PAF are better than most air forces.Recommend

  • straightshooter
    Nov 27, 2015 - 6:45AM

    @Mrs HighBall:
    What part of dying with your boots on do you not understand?Recommend

More in Sindh