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PAF s' Chief of the Air Staffs

Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi, NI(M), S Bt

Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi (also known as PQ Mehdi, born October 1, 1943) was the Chief of Pakistan Air Force from 1997 to 2000, and led the air force during the 1999 Kargil War. He along with the then naval chief Admiral Fasih Bokhari have publicly called for an independent inquiry into the Kargil debacle, and claimed that both the Air Force and the Navy were not taken on board into the planning and execution of the Kargil operation. After serving the three-year tenure as the Chief of Air Staff, he was replaced by Mushaf Ali Mir in November 2000.

Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi was commissioned as a fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force on June 20, 1964 in the 38th GD(P) Course and won the Sword of Honour after graduating from Pakistan Air Force Academy Risalpur. He took part in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War as a young flight lieutenant and on a close air support mission in the erstwhile East Pakistan, his F-86 Sabre was shot down and he was taken as a POW (Prisoner of War).

Mehdi is a qualified flying instructor who has also done Staff Course from PAF Staff College and National Defence Course from National Defence University, Islamabad.

After returning back to Pakistan, Qureshi steadily rose to command No. 9 Squadron and then lead the strategically important Sargodha Airbase. He was then given the command of Southern Air Command (SAC). This command features considerable interaction amongst the three services. He was then made Air Officer Commanding Air Defence Command (ADC).

His staff appointments included Senior Air Staff Officer, Southern Air Command, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) and the all-important Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations) at the Air Headquarters (AHQ), in charge of all the operations and plans of the air force. This succeeded with the posting as vice chief of air staff (VCAS) and finally as the head of all the air force as Chief of Air Staff (CAS). He took over the command from the retiring Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak in November 1997.

Known to have an imposing personality, Qureshi warned the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the Kargil War that any intervention by the Air Force into disputed land of Indian Kashmir would be perceived as an all-out war. According to Air Cdre Kaiser Tufail, "Qureshi’s rather straight-faced and forthright dealings with a somewhat junior General Pervez Musharraf particularly during Kargil conflict was a good reason to believe that the latter decided to appoint a not-very-senior Air Chief whom he could order around like one of his Corps Commanders." (Musharraf after assuming control as the Chief Executive superseded five senior Air Marshals and appointed a sixth-in-line to the post of CAS once Qureshi was due for retirement).
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