Afghanistan’s first woman pilot denies she sought US asylum

Kabul: Afghanistan’s first female pilot Nilofar Rahmani has dismissed reports of her move to seek asylum in the US and reaffirmed her commitment to serve the country.

According to Tolo news, Rahmani in a letter to the Afghan Air Force said she was misunderstood and misquoted by the New York Times.

Reports that Rahmani had applied for asylum in the US sparked anger among people in Afghanistan.

Rahmani, who is a captain in the air force, said the enemies of Afghanistan have always tried to spread propaganda and misconception in the society aimed at misleading the public on the abilities and development of women.

“History proves that the enemies of Afghanistan have been waiting to get a chance to create confusion among the public by speaking out against women… These moves are only aimed at preventing women from being included in the development process in the country,” she said.

“I was deeply saddened about the misinterpretation of the New York Times article and offer an apology to all my colleagues who had been hurt by the report. I only want a better education so I can serve my country and my oppressed people, particularly my sisters, and make Afghanistan proud,” the letter said.

Rahmani was celebrated in the US in 2015 after the US State Department honoured her with its annual Women of Courage Award.

She made headlines in domestic and international media when she completed her training to become Afghanistan’s first female pilot in 2013 and vowed to serve in the nation’s air force, in one of the world’s most conservative countries.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has accused Rahmani of telling lies to the people.

“Those who legitimise the threats in Afghanistan to seek asylum in another country, this approach has no base,” said Ministry of Defence spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.

The Afghan government invests nearly $1 million on each pilot to be trained.