A female Pakistani air force pilot was killed on Tuesday when her trainer jet crashed near the central town of Mianwali, the military said, the first such loss for the country’s tiny community of women pilots.
The crash happened during “routine operational training”, the air force said in a statement. A second pilot survived.
“Squadron leader Saqib Abbasi and flying officer Marium Mukhtiar were on a routine operational training mission when it encountered a serious in-flight emergency during the final stages of the mission,” the air force said.
“Ensuring safety of life and property of civilian population on ground, both the pilots ejected and the aircraft crashed near Kundian, Mianwali.”
Mukhtiar is the first female pilot of the Pakistan air force to be killed while on duty.
The air force had 19 women pilots in 2013, the last year for which the figure was immediately available.
In an interview with BBC early last year, Mukhtiar had talked about the challenges of being a female pilot in a male-dominated environment.
Mukhtiar 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 force but had supported her throughout.
Pakistan is a highly traditional, patriarchal society where opportunities for women are limited.
But in 2006, seven women broke into one of the country’s most exclusive male clubs to graduate as fighter pilots – perhaps the most prestigious job in the powerful military and for six decades closed to them.
Tuesday’s crash is the latest deadly accident to hit Pakistan’s military.
In May, a military helicopter carrying diplomats to inspect a tourism project crashed, killing seven people, including the ambassadors of Norway and Philippines.
In August, another military helicopter being used as an air ambulance crashed near the northern district of Mansehra, killing 12 people.