A Girl from Swat (Naima Gul): First Army Pilot
PESHAWAR: It was like a dream come true for the 12-year-old Grade-4 student, Naima Gul, from Swat when she became the first lady pilot of the Pakistan Army Aviation.
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani granted her wish on Tuesday. Naima Gul, who belongs to Mingora and was suffering from Thalassaemia, had written a letter to the army chief and expressed her desire to become a pilot. General Kayani approved and inducted her as lady pilot of the 9 Squadron in Pakistan Army for a day.
“I don’t know how long I will live but today is a dream day for me. I will live for my country and die for it,” the soft-spoken Naima Gul remarked. “I am lucky to receive prompt reply from the chief of army staff who not only fulfilled my dream but also gave me courage and others like me to fight against the deadly disease,” she said.
The ceremony to induct Naima Gul into Pakistan Army Aviation started with recitation from the holy Quran. Her medical check-up was done earlier when she arrived in the morning at the Aviation Base. Lt Col Riazat, commander of the Aviation Base, presented welcome address before Naima Gul’s speech.
Corps Commander Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik then awarded her enrolment letter, flying badge and aviation jacket. She was taken to lay a floral wreath at the Shuhada Monument along with Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik and other senior military officials. Her instructor Major Zahid took her to the simulator room where a famous saying was inscribed on the wall. It read: “He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
At the operational room, she was briefed about map marking to help her evacuate an injured man after her first flight of 5 nautical (9.6 km). A demonstration of her first flight on a Lama chopper, evacuation of an injured person and shifting him to the hospital followed. She was given round of the base, met the engineers and briefed about operational system of the squadron.
In his speech, the corps commander noted that Naima Gul’s wish reflected the respect, recognition and high reverence of people of Swat towards the Pakistan Army. He said the brave and valiant soldiers had rendered matchless sacrifices for making Swat valley a cradle of peace with the cooperation of people of Swat.
Naima Gul’s father Zabatullah Sohail, her mother Shabana Anjum, her younger sister Roqayya Manal were also there and saw Naima flying the Lama chopper. “I’m a proud man as my daughter got the honour of becoming the first lady pilot in Pakistan Army, an army whose jawans gave matchless sacrifices to restore peace in Swat and in the rest of Pakistan,” her father said. Her mother lauded General Kayani for giving prompt reply to a little girl living in Matta Kore, a village in Swat.