Glorious History of Pakistan Air Force: Pilots Makes the Real Difference, believes Group Captain Shaukat Naeem

By Group Captain (Retired) Shaukat Naeem

Writer Group Captain Shaukat Naeem was born in 1936 and commissioned in Pakistan Air Force in 1960. His first positing was at Risaalpur. He fought 1965 and 1971 wars with exemplary courage and won several medals during his service

The mighty Indian Air Force (IAF) rests on the strong shoulders of 139,576 active personnel and a fleet of over 1748 aircrafts.

These resources enable this arms unit to be the fourth most powerful of all air forces in the world. In comparison, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) backs 70,000 active personnel, operating with 755 aircrafts.

The numbers indicate that the IAF has twice the throughput of the PAF, signaling it as superior to the PAF. It also implies that the IAF should easily dominate the smaller, unequipped PAF should a war break. So why hasn’t it overpowered PAF every single time?

Out of the 4 wars that have taken place, the IAF has failed to come out as a clear winner each time as PAF battled them head-on, defending its land.

My name is Shaukat Naeem and I was commissioned in PAF as the Group Captain in 1960. My first posting was in Risaalpur, whereas my final posting was in Badabar, Peshawar.

Let’s do a memory jog.

It’s September 1965, the IAF is all set to carry out their surprise attack. The IAF chief states that he will celebrate victory at GymKhana, Lahore.

I was posted in Sargodha at the time. I remember the blazing sounds of bombs exploding and the gunfire that erupted in the dead of the night. My family rushed to our trench for safety, waiting for the storm to abate.

Slowly, news started to pour in. Flight Lt. Waseem, a dear friend and college companion had been martyred at the Sargodha Air Base as it burned from Indian bombs. The very thought of it still clutches my heart; we had exchanged duties that very day. Waseem attained martyrdom in my place and attained the highest of ranks in Jannah, as I lived to share his name with you, 55 years after his death.

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Despite such tribulations, the PAF shone brightest when tested. It managed to safeguard its bases despite the surprise attacks. While the PAF fleet was smaller than IAF’s, it was still more modern and high-tech. Add to this the PAF pilots’ unmatched endurance and years of training, and Pakistan was able to hold its ground.

Waseem attained martyrdom in my place and attained the highest of ranks in Jannah, as I lived to share his name with you, 55 years after his death.

 

We have several examples of how well they combated the IAF aircrafts. One such example that stands out is of Squad Leader M. M. Alam who effortlessly took down five Indian fighter aircrafts in one intense encounter. With bravery and skill from pilots like him, the PAF defended its bases from an enemy that clearly outnumbered them.

First from left, writer Group Captain Shaukat Naeem with his friends at Risaalpur.

What the PAF lacked in numbers, it made up for in air battle?

Our pilots are certainly more courageous and unfazed. High tech aircrafts are of no use when their pilots cannot maneuver them for ferocious attacks.

The patriotic spirit and commitment of PAF pilots makes the real difference. The pursuit of attaining shahadat (Martyrdom) makes them fearless, courageous and unmatchable.

The events of 27th February, thus, come as no surprise. The capture of IAF pilot Abhi Nandan was an obvious outcome of an Indian misadventure.

The IAF had struck their blow too soon, too blunt. Yet, after overpowering the threat, PAF showed mercy in a high-pressure situation to restore peace. The IAF pilot was returned unharmed and he still cherishes the hospitality he received at the other side of the border.

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Young officers should continue to keep in mind the strength and valor of their predecessors.

Our pilots have never shied away from battle, always ready to prove their mettle. Their dedication and excellence still lives on through their stories of fearless combats and unforgettable martyrdoms. But they were only able to accomplish this because of their strong sense of purpose.

Young officers should continue to keep in mind the strength and valor of their predecessors.

It is impossible to do great things without purpose, and our young officers should commit this to memory. Their purpose should always be ready to defend their Motherland from any force that wishes to bring it harm. They must remember to give it their all!

Note: Writer of this article Shaukat Naeem retired as Group Captain while serving at Badabar Air Base for 10 years straight. Born in 1936 and commissioned in Pakistan Air Force in 1960, his first positing was at Risaalpur. He fought 1965 and 1971 wars with exemplary courage and won several medals during his service. He is based in Lahore after his retirement from PAF.