The 22-year-old Pakistani fighter pilot, Marium Mukhtiar, embraced martyrdom after a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) FT-7PG aircraft crashed near Kundian in Mianwali district in the northwest of Punjab province on Tuesday. She was Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot and also the first female martyr.
A PAF FT-7PG flown by Squadron Leader Saqib Abbasi and co-pilot Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar was on a routine operational training mission when it encountered an in-flight emergency during the final stages of the mission, said a PAF statement.
In an interview with BBC early last year, she talked about the challenges of being a female pilot in a male-dominated environment.
She said she joined the air force because she was inspired by the “pomp” and wanted to do “something different”. She also said her mother had been concerned about her decision to join the in force but had supported her throughout.
It is unclear how many women have joined the air force as fighter pilots since then. A New York Times report in June put the figure at 21.
Marium’s mother, Rehana Mukhtiar, who was also her teacher in the Army Public School, said: “I had given my daughter away to the PAF five years ago. The only remorse I feel is that she was not able to complete her mission. She is a role model to many and coming from an army background we are proud of the girl and the fighter pilot that she was.”
“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.
In Pakistan’s patriarchal society where opportunities for women are limited, her achievements were something the whole nation is proud of.
May Allah give Maryam Mukhtiar the highest place in heaven. Our condolences are with her family and friends.
Her legacy will always empower and motivate women of Pakistan.