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Pak Army appoints thalassemic girl as pilot

A 12-year-old girl suffering from thalassemia was made a pilot of the Pakistan Army’s aviation wing for a day after she wrote to the army chief about her dreams of serving as an aviator.

world Updated: Mar 23, 2011 15:41 IST

A 12-year-old girl suffering from thalassemia was made a pilot of the Pakistan Army’s aviation wing for a day after she wrote to the army chief about her dreams of serving as an aviator.

Naima Gul, a class four student from Mingora in the militancy-hit Swat valley, wrote about her wish to Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, who approved her induction as the first lady pilot of 9 Squadron of the aviation wing.

"I don't know how long I will live but today is a dream day for me," soft-spoken Niama Gul said on Tuesday.

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

Kayani's decision helped fulfill her dreams and gave her "immense courage to fight against this deadly disease", Naima said.

She also spoke of her desire to set up a foundation to provide free medicines to others suffering from thalassemia.

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

Naima's induction ceremony at an aviation base was followed by a demonstration flight of Llama helicopter that simulated evacuation of an injured person.

She was presented an enrollment letter, a flying badge and an aviation jacket.

Naima's father Zabatullah Sohail, mother Shabana Anjum and her younger sister Roqia Manal attended the ceremony.