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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 696, 22 November 2023

Is Pakistan Air Force (PAF) decaying? Takeaways of a report



Pakistan Air Force was established as Royal Pakistan Air Force right after the 1947 partition.

Femy Francis

On 15 November, a blog post was posted “White Paper: How PAF Is Being Destroyed By Its Chief, Zaheer Ahmed Baber,” by Khamosh Mujahid revealing the dire state of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) under the regime of Chief Baber. The white paper aimed to inform the government and the public of the unjust treatment meted out by the PAF chief and how it is internally damaging one of the most prestigious institutions of Pakistan. The anonymous author accused the systemic rotting of the institution by the corrupt head and the cronies he enlisted.

Pakistan Air Force was established as Royal Pakistan Air Force right after the 1947 partition. The institution had 2,332 personnel and few sophisticated Air Force technology. The Air Force flourished under the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization of 1954 and the Central Treaty Organization of 1954 which brought them closer to the US. The period saw a hike in US-based investments and military aid. PAF has been at the front in facing regional confrontations. While PAF is a smaller force compared to India, but is considered to be capable of managing aerial combat equipped with US-quality aircraft and touts its “qualitative advantage.”

Takeaways: Systemic decay an opinion or truth?
First, A history of subpar performance and incompetency, the now Chief joined the PAF in 1985 with low academic records and few professional courses. He was found not to have completed the necessary flying hours reasoned by his lack of medical fitness and phobia of flying. The op-ed accuses the Chief of climbing the ladder of influence through: “manipulation, connections, sycophancy, and loopholes in the system to advance his career.”

Second, Nefarious history of corruption, He is accused of using government funds from the budget for his personal use as black money. Baber bought a huge tract of agricultural land in Chakwal and three houses in Islamabad with local funds. He and his family are often accused of using the PAF sophisticated aircraft to travel to foreign countries in a bid to hide USD 75 million dollars in offshore accounts under his family member's names.

Third, Baber’s legacy NASTP, National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP) is the chief last PAF-affiliated project and is often seen as his retirement plan. The project is accused of being ill-timed amid the economic crisis and seen as a reckless infrastructure building. Additionally, he is also accused of using the temporarily employed staff in NASTP to commit espionage against his Air Staff.

Fourth, Brain Drains in PAF, Baber is accused of favouring meritless individuals for his lobbying. Often called the “merit killer” he takes favouritism and loyalty as the yardstick to enlistment and promotions. The PAF has been allegedly draining well-equipped Air Force leaders to early retirement and promotional blockades under Babar. Where several serving Air Marshals have “no appointments” and are forced to sit at home.

Fifth, PAF’s decay a security threat, On 4 November, the PAF base in Mianwali, Punjab came under attack by nine heavily armed militants and a suicide bomber. The military wings claimed that all nine militants were killed and that the attack was “thwarted and foiled,” stated Inter Services Public Relations Pakistan (ISPR). There was information that thirty aircrafts were damaged later under represented by Babar. PAF recently confronted the Indian Airforce in Balakot airstrikes after the Pulwama attack. With the ongoing terrorism threat and the regional tension facing Pakistan especially after the repatriation of Afghan refugees. The systemic decaying of PAF can pose a paramount security threat to the country. The blog post stated that the damage was done when Chief Babar came to power by manipulating the loopholes in the system. They demanded that the Baber be held accountable for his misgivings and be prevented from further destroying PAF.

References
Paper Claims Not Everything In Air Force Is So White,” Friday Times, 21 November 2023
White Paper: How PAF Is Being Destroyed By Its Chief, Zaheer Ahmed Baber,” Blogspot, 15 November 2023
Pakistan Air Force – A Comprehensive Story,” Air Power Asia
Ahmad Ibrahim , “Smaller but Capable: How Pakistan Air Force Deters Indian Air Force,” RIAC, 10 August 2023
Iftikhar Shirazi, Tahir Khan, “9 terrorists killed as operation to clear PAF’s Mianwali air base concludes: ISPR,” Dawn, 4 November 2023

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