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Perspectives

Quaid-i-Azam and the inspirations Pakistan Air Force drew from him

Published December 25, 2023
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U.S. Army soldiers look at an F-16 fighter jet during an official ceremony to receive four such aircraft from the United States, at a military base in Balad, Iraq, July 20, 2015. Photo: Reuters
U.S. Army soldiers look at an F-16 fighter jet during an official ceremony to receive four such aircraft from the United States, at a military base in Balad, Iraq, July 20, 2015. Photo: Reuters
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jet F-16 performs to commemorate Pakistan Air Force’s ‘Operation Swift Retort’, following the shot down of Indian military aircrafts on February 27, 2019 in Kashmir, during an air show in Karachi, Pakistan February 27, 2020. Photo: Reuters
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jet F-16 performs to commemorate Pakistan Air Force’s ‘Operation Swift Retort’, following the shot down of Indian military aircrafts on February 27, 2019 in Kashmir, during an air show in Karachi, Pakistan February 27, 2020. Photo: Reuters
Pakistan’s only female war-ready fighter pilot, walks with Wing Commander of Squadron 20 Nasim Abbas (2nd R) and her colleagues toward a Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jet at Mushaf base in Sargodha, north Pakistan June 6, 2013. Photo: Reuters
Pakistan’s only female war-ready fighter pilot, walks with Wing Commander of Squadron 20 Nasim Abbas (2nd R) and her colleagues toward a Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jet at Mushaf base in Sargodha, north Pakistan June 6, 2013. Photo: Reuters

“Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three. Hailed as ‘Great Leader’ (Quaid-i-Azam) of Pakistan and its first Governor General, Jinnah virtually conjured that country into statehood by the force of his indomitable will.”

Stanley Wolpert

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah is one of the most dynamic leaders of modern times. As is evident from Wolpert’s opening paragraphs of the Quaid’s biography, Jinnah of Pakistan, he was a complete leader.

His foresight was tremendous.

During his stay in Europe, he had watched the emergence of air power very closely. From its limited role in the First World War to the unprecedented death and destruction unleashed on humanity by the use of this new weapon, the Quaid perceived the overriding role that airpower would play in future conflicts.

In 1936, Quaid-i-Azam met the Muslim officers and men of the Royal Air Force at Lahore. He was very keen to discuss their progress and participation in the Air Force. He urged them to work hard and acquire the knowledge requisite to flying and maintaining aircraft. This evinces his interest in air power and its emerging potentials.

How PAF helped Quaid see Pakistan’s first Independence Day

Pakistan Air Force has been lucky to have received the Quaid’s special attention.

PAF Base Masroor, then known as Mauripur, has the unique distinction of welcoming the Quaid in August 1947 when he flew in the Viceroy’s Dakota to take up his mantle as the Governor General of an independent Pakistan.

People from all walks of life thronged to Mauripur to catch a glimpse of their “Messiah of the promised land”.

As the Quaid alighted from the aircraft, accompanied by his sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah and his ADCs, his face beaming with delight, the cries of Pakistan Zindabad, Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad, rent the air. A wave of unbounded enthusiasm swept the entire tarmac.

The people broke the cordons put up by the police and rushed towards the aircraft. The Quaid stopped on the last step of the aircraft’s gangway and with a wave of his hand, beckoned the crowd to go back behind the barriers. They retreated instantly as if they had been pushed by a magic wand. The lesson of discipline had been driven home.

It was the Quaid’s amazing prescience that convinced him of the inseparable link between survival and air power which would guarantee the security of Pakistan in the shadow of the neighbouring implacable enemy.

It was his love of PAF which, on 13 April, 1948 brought him to the Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) Flying School at Risalpur despite his poor health.

Accompanied by his sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, the Father of the Nation arrived at Risalpur. He was received by Air Marshal Asghar Khan — PAF’s first Pakistani Commander-in-Chief — who was then Wing Commander and Officer Commanding of the RPAF Flying Training School and reviewed the ceremonial parade that comprised Flight Cadets of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th GD (P) courses.

The F-16 fleet: area of collaboration between Islamabad and Washington

As the Quaid stood before this small band of adoring PAF Officers and Cadets of his, fledgling nation’s air force, despite his frail health, the air reverberated with his famous speech which became a source of inspiration for PAF in the trials and tribulations of the years to come. t merits being quoted here.

“I am well aware of air developments in other countries and my government is determined that the Royal Pakistan Air Force will not lag behind. The Royal Pakistan Air Force has started with very few assets except loyalty and determination to succeed. But the Royal Pakistan Air Force is already taking shape; this school formed only seven months ago is a worthy example of this.

“I know you are short of personnel but I understand recruitment is brisk and good material is coming forward. To fill the gaps in the meantime the Royal Air Force Volunteers are coming forward and are welcome.

“I know also that you are short of aircraft and equipment, but efforts are being made to procure the necessary equipment and orders for modern aircraft have also been placed.

“But aircraft and personnel in any numbers are of little use, unless there is a team spirit within the Air force and a strict sense of discipline prevails. I charge you to remember that only with discipline and self- reliance can the Royal Pakistan Air Force be worthy of Pakistan.

“I am pleased to learn of the progress which this school has made and as desired by the Air Commander and yourselves I name it from today ’The Royal Pakistan Air Force College. I thank you all and wish your school and yourselves all success.”

PAF’S gallant Christian heroes carry Quaid’s message

The opening paragraph of the speech that he delivered on the occasion of his first visit to a Royal Pakistan Air Force unit must also be quoted as stirring words have rightly become enshrined in the creed of the Pakistan Air Force.

“There is no doubt that 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 and must take its right place with the Army and the Navy in securing Pakistan’s Defence.”

Quaid’s towering personality radiated great courage and dynamism and his inspiring words serve as a beacon of strength in the PAF even today.

In the formative years, every officer, airman cadet and civilian of the Air Force worked with untiring effort and never-ending zeal to build PAF.

The Quaid’s dream of making the PAF second to none did not take long to become a reality and the nation today is rightly proud of its Air Force as an impregnable shield of the country’s airspace.

Successive leadership in the PAF pursued with continued resolve the task of building the nation’s air arm from strength to strength. In keeping with the Quaid’s aspirations, it behooves all in the PAF to prove worthy of the Quaid’s trust in their abilities to serve Pakistan with courage and dignity and make PAF a credible deterrent against its potential adversaries.

Whenever the nation has been challenged, PAF has proved equal to the task. Commencing with the 1948 Kashmir War, where only the Air Transport Wing participated by dropping air supplies to the troops and the Mujahideen.

On November 04, 1948, faced with its first test in the face of the enemy, our fledgling airforce set the pace for future generations of air warriors.

Flying Officer Mukhtar Ahmad Dogar, operating a defenceless Dakota in the valleys of Kashmir, was attacked by two Indian Air Force(IAF) Tempest fighter aircraft and ordered to surrender and land at Srinagar.

Though unarmed and unable to retaliate, the undaunted pilot refused to capitulate.

The four month old air force had only two war-worn Dakotas when the first call for help came in December 1947. Despite limited maintenance support and lack of experience in supply dropping, the air force responded bravely.

Flying through the serpentine valleys to reach the drop zones of Bunji and Skardu entailed operating through some of the most hazardous terrain in the world; turning and twisting through narrow valleys and gorges flanked by some of the highest peaks in the world; where weather was highly changeable and no forecasting facility was available required not only a high level of professionalism but also a great deal of pluck.

These handicaps did not deter our aircrew who accepted the challenge with exemplary courage and launched their mercy missions without delay.

The operations involved yet another hazard: the IAF.

Stung by the reverses suffered by their land forces, the Indian Air Force increased its air patrolling over the area. Its aircraft lurked around, harassing civilian population or Azad Kashmir forces, unchallenged because PAF fighters had been asked to stay away.

On that fateful day, two IAF Tempest fighter aircraft apprehended the unarmed PAF Dakota and on the radio ordered its pilot to go to the nearest Indian airfield but he took no notice of this. The order was repeated three times but he did not respond.

At this point the Indians threatened to shoot him down if he did not comply, and they fired to show that they were armed. A Pakistan Army loader was killed and the Navigator Flying Officer Alfred Jagjivan got injured but keeping the prestige of Pakistan and its air force in mind, Dogar skillfully evaded the pursuers and managed to reach home base. For his indomitable valour, Mukhtar Dogar became the first military person to receive the coveted Sitara-e-Jurat.

The second instance came on 10 April, 1959, which was Eid-ul-Fitr — a religious holiday to mark the end of Ramadan month long fasting, Pakistan Air Force achieved its first kill in the air.

Assuming that PAF would have lowered its guard, an Indian Air Force Canberra assumed that it would be able to fly pretty deep into Pakistan higher than the reach of PAF F-86 fighter aircraft and get away with it.He was in for a surprise; Flight Lieutenants Naseer Butt and M. Yunus of No 15 Squadron were scrambled from Peshawar to intercept the intruder.

The latter shot it down and engraved his name in the annals of history, being awarded with the second Sitara-e-Jurat for PAF and giving the nation an Eid gift from Pakistan Air Force, which had drawn first blood!

The generations to follow had a hard act to follow but they were determined to be “second to none.” In the 1965 and 1971 air wars, the PAF emblazoned glorious tales of valour and sacrifice.

On February 27, 2019 in Operations Swift Retort, again the PAF got the better of an adversary that tried to sneak in the dead of the night a day earlier but learnt the lesson of its life.

It is a unique coincidence that having received the first salute on Pakistan’s soil in August, 1947 at PAF Base Mauripur, the Quaid replied his last salute also at a PAF Base.

When he began his final flight from PAF Base Samungli at Quetta at 2:00 pm on September 11, 1948, Fatima Jinnah in her book ‘Jinnah, My Brother’, writes,

“…The pilot, and crew lined up and saluted him. He in turn lifted his hand feebly…”

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

S. M. Hali

The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF, and now a security analyst

Comments

200 characters
Adi Dec 25, 2023 02:08pm
What did Pak Fouj learn from the Quaid-i-Azam?
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KU Dec 25, 2023 02:49pm
The Quaid sacrificed his life for our nation and in comparison our leaders have destroyed all values that the Quaid emphasised. The brave souls of our armed forces have always upheld their promise and oath to the country. It's sad that over the years we have messed up every semblance of a growing economy and society, the crooks and corrupt have taken over the country.
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Kareem Dec 25, 2023 05:47pm
Ironically, one Indian is the father of Pakistan
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KU Dec 25, 2023 06:19pm
@Kareem , equally ironic that many Indians think they are from India.
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TrthSkr Jan 02, 2024 03:46pm
Would the current top brass pass the high standards of Quaid-e-Azam viz a viz professionalism and honesty! And zero corruption! Nop! Everyone knows about the Red rooms!
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