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).