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Afghan pilot receives courage award

Captain Niloofar Rahmani, the first female fixed-wing Afghan Air Force pilot in nation’s history, on Friday was presented with the prestigious International Women of Courage award for the year 2015.

Rahmani along with nine others from various parts of the world, including Tabassum Adnan, founder, Khwendo Jirga from Swat, received the award from the Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom.

The award ceremony was initially scheduled for Thursday, which was postponed for a day due to heavy snow in the American Capital.

“One of our awardees is the first woman to be a fixed-wing Air Force pilot in Afghanistan’s history, and she continues to fly despite threats from the Taliban and even members of her own extended family,” the US First Lady, Michelle Obama, said in her prepared remarks.

According to the citation, Captain Rahmani was only 18 years old when the Afghan air force began recruiting women for pilot training. Two years later, she graduated flight school.

“Niloofar is now the first woman in her nation’s history to earn her flying wings on a fixed-wing plane. Afghanis and people all around the world swelled with pride at her accomplishments, but many, including the Taliban and some members of her own extended family, were incensed,” the citation said.

“Niloofar received death threats and was forced to relocate several times. But she will not be intimidated and she will not be silenced,” it said. “Niloofar is as committed to encouraging other young women to follow in her footsteps now as she was as an 18-year-old dreaming of flight school. For her bravery in the face of threats of violence and commitment to an inclusive future for Afghanistan’s women and girls, we honor Captain Rahmani as a woman of courage,” the citation said. (PAN)

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