PAF History - Sir Zia - Defence Article Themathic Image

Share this article

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Within one year of Pakistan’s emergence as the largest Islamic state in the world; its founder, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah defined a vision for the formation and development of the Pakistan Air Force. On April 13, 1948, while visiting the pilots’ training centre at PAF Station Risalpur, the Quaid asserted, “A country without a strong Air Force is at the mercy of any aggressor. Pakistan must build up her Air Force as quickly as possible. It must be an efficient Air Force, Second To None.” PAF has followed Quaid’s dictum in letter and spirit and maintains a high standard of professionalism, and discipline to prove itself as second to none.

The utmost operational preparedness remains a priority for the PAF, its leadership has had the ability to visualize the impending conflict right from the beginning. PAF anticipated the 1965 war with India at least six months earlier, and hence was fully prepared for it, when it finally broke out on the 6th of September, 1965. In fact, the PAF’s preparation had started in April 1965, when the Rann of Kutch conflict with India was unfolding in the southern extremities of Pakistan. However, PAF did not initiate any offensive manoeuvre and remained prepared to respond in case IAF appeared in the skies to support its land forces.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan, the first Pakistani to lead PAF, handed over the command to Air Marshal Noor Khan on July 23, 1965. However, this change of command just before an impending conflict did not have any adverse impact on PAF’s ongoing preparation, because the incumbent aggressively pursued the defined course of action, and personally supervised the operational preparedness.

The IAF, at the beginning of the first all-out war between India and Pakistan, had a numerical superiority of 3.8:1 over the PAF, however, the latter’s offensive and attacking strategy paralysed the much larger adversary right at the onset of air operations. PAF, in spite of numerical superiority, was able to overwhelm IAF, and the same has been successfully maintained over so many decades, and therefore, IAF has not been able to create any impression on the PAF during its enduring rivalry.

The 1965 war was the first ever all-out war that PAF was fighting against IAF. Therefore, its leadership concentrated on achieving surprise and adopted an air strategy of ‘offensive defence.’ Perhaps, IAF leadership did not expect that a small-sized air force would take that risk against a much bigger adversary.

PAF’s initiative proved to be a game changer and its support to the Pakistan Army in the battles of Chawinda and Chamb caused unbearable losses to India’s armoured formations. PAF’s heroics were acknowledged by the national leadership and the nation ever since.

PAF’s outright victory in the 1965 war, forced IAF to invest heavily in its fleet, however, PAF could not match the numbers due to its limited resources. Therefore, PAF decided to concentrate on acquiring quality equipment and developing critical infrastructure and operative systems. Moreover, PAF maintained its focus on training and utmost operational preparedness for any eventuality. Be it the fight against terror hideouts in the home-grown Swat operations, or the occasional faceoff with the Soviet Air Force during the Afghan War, the PAF operations always proved to be the game changer due to their professionalism, and responsiveness.

PAF’s hallmark has been its measured response to IAF’s gambits in the subsequent decades as well, primarily to ensure that the conflict does not expand horizontally or vertically and that the escalation ladder is not overstepped. The case in point is IAF’s misadventure on the night of 25-26 February 2019, when it violated Pakistan’s airspace and destroyed a few trees in past midnight airstrikes assuming that PAF would ignore its actions for the lack of capacity and the fear of escalation.

However, like always, IAF misjudged PAF’s resolved of ensuring territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan and proved its professionalism by off-targeting enemy positions of critical importance because the purpose was not their destruction but to let the enemy know that next time these bombs will be directed on the target itself. Concurrently, it shot down two IAF fighter jets that were scrambled against broad daylight strikes by PAF that were launched staying well inside its own territory.

PAF, in spite of limited resources, is making an effort to indigenously develop modern techniques to fill the technological gap with the arch-rival, IAF, which has been collaborating with its western allies in the garb of preparing against China’s rising power. PAF continues its efforts and remains prepared through training, knowledge, and dedicated teamwork. The objective remains abundantly clear: actively defend the aerial frontiers of Pakistan to prove that PAF is Second to None.

Dr Zia Ul Haque Shamsi is the author of ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Conflict Management between India and Pakistan’ and ‘South Asia Needs Hybrid Peace.’ He is presently working as Director (Peace and Conflict Studies) at the Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS), Islamabad, Pakistan. The article was first published in The Nation. He can be contacted at: cass.thinkers@gmail.com

Image Credit: Online Sources

Recent Publications

Browse through the list of recent publications.

Pakistan’s Unrealised Remittance Potential

The tide of outward migration from Pakistan surged considerably over the past two years (2022 and 2023), with several millions opting to emigrate with the aim of securing better prospects overseas. For instance, the number of skilled, highly skilled, and highly qualified worker migrants from Pakistan alone increased to 0.77 million, compared to 0.26 million in 2020 and 2021 and 0.48 million during 2018 and 2019, the two years before the pandemic.
  27 views

Read More »

Neuralink Implant: Scrolling via Thoughts

The human thinking process is nothing short of a miracle. Our brain houses billions of neurons. Physical and mental activities are conditional upon the generation of electrical impulses which are passed on from one neuron to another. Technological advancements have led to the development of devices with the ability to detect impulses generated in the brain and develop an interface with smart devices.
  31 views

Read More »

The US Annual Threat Assessment Report: An Analysis

The world is in flux with rapid geopolitical changes, accelerating competition, and ongoing conflicts across many regions. Amidst this backdrop, the recently released 2024 Annual Threat Assessment (ATA) of the U.S. Intelligence Community gives a bird’s eye view of US perceptions and misperceptions about the various evolving threats to its national security.
  23 views

Read More »

Stay Connected

Follow and Subscribe

Join Our Newsletter
And get notified everytime we publish new content.

© 2022 CASSTT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Developed By Team CASSTT

Contact CASS

CASS (Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies), Old Airport Road, Islamabad
+92 51 5405011
cass.thinkers@casstt.com
career@casstt.com

All views and opinions expressed or implied are those of the authors/speakers/internal and external scholars and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of CASS.