Air Marshal retired Asghar Khan, the first native commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), passed away in on Friday morning, a spokeserson of the PAF said in a statement.
Khan, who became the youngest head of PAF at the age of 35, passed away at the age of 96 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 good character, great commitment and professional capability,” he added.
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
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 Tehrik-e-Istiqlal, a secular political party. In 2012, the party was merged with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
In March 2017, the PAF Academy in Risalpur was named after Khan.
Soon after Khan’s death, PTI Chairman Imran Khan shared a message of condolence on Twitter.
“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,” the PTI chief said.