Muhammad Shahrukh Khan, 19, from Lahore, who was accepted into the United States Air Force Academy for four years of academic and military training, departed for the United States on Friday.
“I’m excited to go, to learn about the world and people and their different backgrounds,” said Shahrukh, who plans to study engineering at the academy. “From a military standpoint, it will be a chance for me to excel. I learned a lot in Pakistan. The US Air Force Academy will teach me new and different things.”
Shahrukh was among 12 students nominated by the Pakistani military to compete in the Service Academy Foreign Student programme. Under this programme, partner nations nominate outstanding young men and women for the opportunity to compete for admission to the prestigious US military academies. Due to the critical military relationship between Pakistan and the United States, Pakistan is one of only 12 countries designated by the United States Secretary of Defence as a priority appointment country.
In February, Shahrukh and the other cadets completed the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA) and interview portions of their applications at the US Embassy in Islamabad. The CFA is a test of strength, agility, speed and endurance used to predict a candidate’s aptitude for the physical programme at the military academies. In the interviews, the applicants demonstrated their strength of character and commitment to service in Pakistan’s armed forces.
In May at the US Embassy in Islamabad, Brigadier General Kenneth Ekman congratulated Shahrukh, presented him books about America and gave him advice about his upcoming move to the US Air Force Academy in Colorado.
“I can attest to how much of an impact the service academy had on my military career and my life and fondly remember graduating with some exceptional partner-nation classmates, many of whom went on to become leaders in their services and defence establishments,” said Ekman, who graduated from the academy in 1991. “Shahrukh will have a perspective no one else in the class will have. He’ll help the class see things differently and understand Pakistan and the Pakistani Air Force.”
Pakistan currently has one student enrolled in the United States Naval Academy, three in the US Air Force Academy, and four in the United States Military Academy.
One of Brig-Gen Ekman’s classmates at the USAF Academy, Mukkarem Q Khan, also graduated in 1991 and served with distinction in the PAF for over a decade.
“There can be no more rewarding experience in one’s life than to attend the US Air Force Academy,” said Khan. “It refines a human being academically, physically and emotionally, and exudes excellence unprejudiced by race, colour, religion or national origin.,” he added. “The inculcation at US Air Force Academy has always remained a source of strength and acumen for me – as a fighter pilot, as a family man and as a proud citizen of Pakistan.”