ISLAMABAD — Asghar Khan, veteran politician and the first Pakistani air force chief after the country gained independence from Britain, has died. He was 96.

Khan was born in Kashmir in northern India in January 1921. He joined India’s Air Force in 1940, then moved to Pakistan where he became the first Pakistani air force chief. Before him, British officers held top military posts in newly independent Pakistan.

Khan entered politics but his centrist Tahrik-e-Istaqlal party did poorly in the 1970 polls. He emerged as top rival to Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977 but alleged poll rigging led to a public uprising and subsequent military takeover by Gen. Ziaul Haq.

Khan, known for his humble demeanor, left politics in 2012.

Pakistan’s military and civilian leadership expressed condolences over his death.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.