Mushaf Ali Mir
Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir (5 March 1947 – 20 February 2003) was an influential statesman and a four-star air chief marshal, who was the sixteenth chief of air staff of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), serving from 20 November 2000 until his accidental death in a plane crash on 20 February 2003.
A fighter pilot and air operations strategist, Mir commanded the strategic aerial combat missions during the civil war in Afghanistan, and also commanded PAF forces during the 2001 Indo-Pakistan standoff. On 20 November 2000, he was promoted to four-star rank and appointed Chief of Air Staff by his close friend and comrade, General Pervez Musharraf. His appointment was cut short when a former PAF Fokker F-27 on which he was a passenger crashed near Kohat, Pakistan. He was succeeded by Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat.
Mushaf Ali Mir was born in Lahore, and was one of nine children of a middle class Kashmiri family of Shia Muslim origin. His father, Farzand Ali Mir, was a calligrapher who died when Mushaf was young. He attended Government Wattan Islamia High School, Lahore.
Initial military training
Mir was commissioned in the PAF on 21 January 1968 in the 45th GD(P) Course. He was a graduate of Flying Instructors School (FIS) and Combat Commanders School (CCS). He took his staff college course at PAF Staff College (now PAF Air War College), and his NDC course at National Defence College, Islamabad.
Command and staff appointments
Mir's key command appointments included: Officer Commanding, CCS Mirage Squadron; Officer Commanding, No. 33 Wing at PAF Base Minhas; Base Commander, PAF Base Sargodha (now called PAF Base Mushaf); and Air Officer Commanding, Southern Air Command.
His staff appointments included: Director Operations, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans) at the Air Headquarters, Chief Project Director of Project Falcon (F-16) and Green Project Flash (Mirage 2000-5). His final assignment before promotion to CAS was Chairman of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Board at Kamra.
Chief of Air Staff
Mir superseded five senior Air Marshals to become the Chief of Air Staff. Those air marshals were: Muhammad Farooq Qari, Vice Chief of Air Staff; Zahid Anis, DCAS (Operations); Qazi Javed Ahmed, DCAS (Personnel); Pervez Iqbal Mirza, AOC Southern Air Command; and Riazuddin Shaikh, DCAS (Administration), all of whom sought premature retirement.
Death in the air crash
On February 20, 2003, Mushaf Ali Mir died along with his wife, Bilquis Mir, and all 15 other officers on board, when their Fokker F-27 crashed during a routine flight to PAF Base Kohat. Among the casualties were other high-ranking officials of the Air Force, including two Principal Staff Officers – Air Vice Marshal Abdul Razzaq, DCAS (Training) and Air Vice Marshal Saleem Nawaz, DCAS (Administration) – and the air crew.
The official cause of crash was determined to be pilot error amid bad weather conditions.
According to investigative journalist Gerald Posner, the death of Mir was not an accident, but instead an act of sabotage. The author claims in his book Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11, that Osama bin Laden struck a deal with Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) through Mir in 1996 to get protection, arms, and supplies for Al-Qaeda. The meeting was blessed by the Saudis through Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, the Saudi intelligence chief. However, after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, and a reversal of Pakistani and Saudi stances favoring the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, the three Saudi princes associated with the deals died within days, and seven months after that, Mir's plane crashed near the Pakistan–Afghan border. Prince Turki bin Faisal, on the other hand, was removed as intelligence chief and sent as Ambassador to United Kingdom during the same time.
- Khawaja Naseer. "A jewel of the Walled City" Daily Times, 22 February 2003
- "5 Pak Air Marshals to retire on Monday" Daily Excelsior, 18 November 2000
- "Obituary: Dedicated to the Glorious PAF Shaheeds" Defence Journal, March 2003
- Johanna McGeary. "Confessions of a Terrorist" Time Magazine, 31 August 2003
Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi
|Chief of Air Staff
2000 – 2003