Sunday, April 10, 2011

Naima’s dream takes to the skies, World/Pakistan: Naima’s dream takes to the skies

Dubai: It was a dream comes true for the 12-year-old thalassaemia patient, Naima Gul, resident of Mingora, Swat when she became the first female pilot and flew a Lama chopper.

Naima, a grade-4 student, was inducted in the Pakistan Army Aviation Academy after she wrote a letter to Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Chief of the Army Staff of Pakistan, who promptly responded and gave approval to grant her wish taking her as a first aviation lady pilot (honorary) of 9 squadron in Pakistan's Army history.

"I don't know about how long I live but today is the dream day for me" soft-spoken Naima said with great confidence. "I will live for my country and will die for it," she added.

"In whatever capacity my beloved country needs my services I'm ready to perform despite suffering from a killer disease," Naima said.

"I'm lucky to have prompt reply as it gave courage to me and others like me to fight against this deadly disease," added Naima who wants to help patients suffering from the disease by establishing ‘Naima Gul Foundation'.

"I will not be there but through the foundation I want to help out free medication like provision of disprol injection, she said. Naima herself takes this injection once a day for five days a week.

"With my induction as the first lady pilot of Pakistan Army Aviation will certainly give me a chance to create awareness to the thousands of mothers and fathers who didn't know how to face these challenges, she said.

Naima was taken to the simulator room that had a saying inscribed on the wall "He who learns but does not thinks is lost, and he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger." Her instructor Major Zahid briefed her about map marking before she embarked on a mock drill to help rescue and evacuate an injured man during her flight of five nautical miles (9.6km).

Naima was also taken around the base where she was briefed about operational system of the squadron. She also met with the engineers.

In his speech Corps Commander Lt Gen Yasin Malik, Commander 11 Corps, said, "Today we gathered here for a unique aim to fulfil the cherished dream of a Thalassaemia patient, Naima Gul, daughter of great Swat valley, for her induction into Army Aviation."

The wish of Naima Gul is a clear reflection of the respect, recognition and high reverence of people of Swat have towards Pakistan's army. In the recent past, Swat, a place known for its matchless beauty, had suffered in the clutches of terrorists and the people had faced cruelty and brutality.

He said women's role are not only increasing in Pakistan but also in the army where they are working in different departments and are proving their mettle.

Naima Gul's father Zabat Ullah Sohail, her mother Shabana Anjum, her younger sister Roqia Manal were also there and saw Naima while flying the Lama chopper. "I'm a proud man today, as my daughter got the honour of becoming the first lady pilot in Pakistan Army, which has brought peace for the people of Swat," said Sohail.

Shabana, her mother, thanked the Army chief for helping her daughter realise her dreams.

Now with her enrolment as honorary aviation pilot for a day, her treatment would also be free along with her education. "We are happy that Army would carry out all medication and education expenses of Naima," her father said.

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