World Bulletin / News Desk
The shock announcement of Afghanistan's first woman fixed-wing pilot to seek asylum in the US has touched off a spirited national debate on the country's most vexing issues: insecurity, women's rights and mass exodus of young people.
Niloofar Rahmani, a 25-year-old pilot lionised widely as the "Afghan Top Gun" after the 1986 Tom Cruise film on flying aces, was scheduled to return to Afghanistan last week after a 15-month training course with the US air force.
But on the eve of her departure, she declared she will not be returning citing fears for her safety, triggering a storm of criticism in Afghanistan for "betraying" her nation but also garnering support from activists.
"What she said in the US was irresponsible and unexpected. She was meant to be a role model for other young Afghans," defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh told AFP Monday. "She has betrayed her country. It is a shame."
The once-unimaginable feat last year won her the US State Department's "Women of Courage Award".
But with fame came death threats from insurgents and she routinely faced contempt from her male colleagues in a conservative nation where many still believe that a woman does not belong outside the home.
Rahmani said she always carried a pistol for her protection and though she has grown accustomed to the ogling eyes of men, she never left her airbase in uniform, lest it make her a target.
afpGüncelleme Tarihi: 26 Aralık 2016, 23:31