Monday, November 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Resentment in Pak Air Force

NEW DELHI, Nov 12 (PTI) — The appointment of Air Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir as Pakistan’s new Chief of the Air Staff, superseding five Air Marshals, has sparked off “rumblings of resentment” in the top ranks of the defence establishment in the country.

As Air Marshal Mushaf Ali prepares to take over the reins in the rank of Air Chief Marshal on November 20, Pakistani media reports are saying that the rumblings might break into open with the likelihood of five Air Marshals ranked above the new Air Chief taking the extraordinary step of putting in their papers.

The elevation of Mushaf Ali, who had only been elevated to the rank of Air Marshal on October 20 has triggered widespread debate in the nation — ruled by the Army for major part of its 53-year-old history — with former axed Generals and Marshals venting their fury in public.

“The heartburns” seem to be more pronounced as the present wave of supersessions are coming when the Army is at the helm of affairs again, proclaimed popular Pakistani weekly ‘Friday Times’.

With Mushaf’s appointment, five senior Air Marshals — Farooq Qari, Zahid Anis, Qazi Javed, Pervez Mirza and Riazuddin Shaikh in charge of key Pakistan Air Force commands have been superseded and Pakistan’s military hierarchy are striving hard to evade a public outcry.

Pakistani media reports said Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf — himself a beneficiary of supersession — was trying through Air Chief designate to persuade the five senior air force commanders to stay on.

Air Marshal Mushaf Ali personally is reported to have met the seniormost serving Air Force officer, Vice Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Farooq Qari to request him not to seek premature retirement. But media reports said the five Air Marshals were bent upon quitting to register their protest.

While announcing the appointment of the new Air Chief, the ruling Pakistani military clique attempted a damage control exercise by pointing out that supersessions were nothing new in the country’s defence establishment having happened five times in the Air Force and at least three times in the Army.

But in a setback to the military junta, two senior axed Generals Ali Kuli Khan and Khalid Nawaz Malik, whose claims were brushed aside to make way for General Musharraf have in media rejoinders pointed out that while earlier supersession in the armed forces had created divisions and resentment, these had always been carried out by civilian governments.

Former Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg has also jumped into the fray coming out strongly against the recent supersessions saying that these were eroding the professional character of the Pakistani services.

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