RAWALPINDI: Asghar Ali Mubarak
The Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other government and military dignitaries attended on Saturday the state funeral of former chief of air staff Air Marshal Asghar Khan at the Nur Khan Air Base.
Air Marshal Asghar Khan, who passed away on Friday morning at CMH Rawalpindi, was laid to rest in his native village Nawanshehr, Abbottabad.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, and other top civilian and military officials also attended the funeral.
His body was transported to Abbottabad following his funeral in Rawalpindi.
In Abbottabad, the former air chief’s funeral prayers were held at the Frontier Force Regimental Center ground from where his body was taken to his native village for burial.
The burial is being undertaken with full military honours, where a PAF fly-past of K-8 and T-37s will also take place.
Prime Minister Abbasi had approved a state funeral for Asghar Khan, in recognition of his patriotic services and contribution to the Pakistan Air Force.
First native air chief, veteran politician
Air Marshal Asghar Khan was going to turn 97 on January 17.
In 1957, Khan became the first native Commander-in-Chief of PAF.
After retiring from the PAF, he became the president of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) which he headed until 1968.
In 1970, Khan founded the Tehreek-e-Istiqlal, but the party could not dent the vote bank of other major parties of the time, such as the Pakistan People’s Party.
He authored several books, including an autobiography, titled My Political Struggle, in 2008.
Later, Khan merged his party with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 2012.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed condolences over his demise, as did Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“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,” the present Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman said in a press release.
Asghar Khan case
The late air chief will also be remembered for the famous Asghar Khan case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
On October 19, 2012, the apex court issued a 141-page verdict, ordering legal proceedings against former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Lt Gen Durrani in a case filed 16 years ago by Asghar Khan.
Khan was represented in the Supreme Court by renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja. He remembered the former air chief in the following words:
Khan had petitioned the Supreme Court in 1996 alleging that the two senior army officers and the then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had doled out Rs140 million among several politicians ahead of the 1990 polls to ensure Benazir Bhutto’s defeat in the polls.
The Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), consisting of nine parties including the Pakistan Muslim League, National Peoples Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, had won the 1990 elections, with Nawaz Sharif being elected prime minister. The alliance had been formed to oppose the Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan People’s Party.
In 1996, Khan had written a letter to the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Nasim Hassan Shah naming Beg, Durrani and Younis Habib, the ex-Habib Bank Sindh chief and owner of Mehran Bank, about the unlawful disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.
The 2012 apex court judgment, authored by the then-Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, had directed the Federal Investigation Agency to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence is found against the former army officers.
That investigation is yet to conclude.
In May 2017, the PTI had said it would approach the Supreme Court over the FIA’s failure to follow through on the apex court’s order in the case.