Anwar Shamim

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Air Chief Marshal
Muhammad Anwar Shamim
محمد انور شمیم
Air Chief Marshal Anwar Shamim
10th Chief of Air Staff
In office
July 23, 1978 – March 5, 1985
President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo
Preceded by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
Succeeded by Jamal A. Khan
Personal details
Born (1931-10-01)October 1, 1931
Haripur, Hazara Division, British Indian Empire
Died January 4, 2013(2013-01-04) (aged 81)
Awards Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Legion of Merit
Military service
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1952–1985
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Air Chief Marshal
Unit No. II Squadron Minhas
Commands Chief of Air Staff
ACAS Air War Operations
Research and Plans, Air Headquarters
AOC Sakesar Air Force Base
Air.Cmdnt. No. 31 Fighter Wing
No. 31 (Fighter) Wing
No. 11 Squadron Arrows
OC Corangi-Creek Air Force Base
AOC Masrour Air Force Base
Commander Tactical Operations, AHQ
Integrated missile programme
PAF Sherdils
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
1965 Air Operations
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Operation Chengiz Khan
Operation Sentinel
Soviet war in Afghanistan

Anwar Shamim (1 October 1931 – 4 January 2013) NI(M), SI(M), HI(M), SJ, was a four-star air-force air officer who was the 10th Chief of Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force from July 23, 1978 to March 5, 1985.[1] Shamim was promoted to four-star air officer and assumed the command of the Pakistan Air Force on 23 July 1978.[1] Anwar Shamim, a war hero, is one of the most decorated military officers in the Pakistan Armed Forces.[citation needed]

Shamim was one of the important and powerful figure during the dictatorial regime of General Zia-ul-Haq. Shamim was one of the closest confident of General Zia-ul-Haq and had access to country's most confidential assets while he acted as Deputy Chief Martial Law Administrator when General Zia was abroad or/ absent in the country. As four-star air officer, Shamim was one of the few figures that had played an influential and internal role in county's clandestine nuclear development programme, with major security and logistics issues needing his permission. In the 1980s, Shamim took over the confidential and clandestine research and development projects of Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission— country's national space authority — and initiated, and administrated the integrated missile programme, of which the first Hatf missile system was developed under his administrative supervision.

During his term as Chief of Air Staff, Shamim oversaw the induction and introduction of F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-5 Fantan and the creation of three regional (corps size) air commands, and the considerably expanded the air war operations in the country. After his retirement from Air Force, Air Chief Martial Shamim went to serve his life for the welfare and humanitarian issues, and further declined the government offices in later life.


Shamim was born in 1931 to an educated family and hails from Haripur (Hazara). He received early education in his native town, proceeding to Government College Campbellpur (Attock), and subsequently joining Dyal Singh College, Lahore. He became a member of the then functional University Air Squadron, to begin his childhood dream career that of a fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force. He was a graduate of RAAF College, Point Cook. He entered the Pakistan Air Force in the General Duties (Pilot) Branch on 14 March 1952.

In 1952, Shamim entered the Air Force Academy where he gained B.Sc. in Mechanics, with a minor in aviation history in 1956. However, he was commissioned on 14 March 1952, as a Pilot Officer (2nd Lieutenant) in 10th GD(P) [General Duties (Pilot)] Course but did not started his active duty, as the Air Force wanted him to finish his college courses first. In 1956, Shamim was promoted to Flying Officer (US equivalent : First Lieutenant) and was selected to go to Australia to complete a jet training course there. After successfully completing an advanced flying training course at Royal Australian Air Force College, Point Cook, for which he had been selected by merit in 1958. Upon his return, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant (Captain) as he was also completed a Jet Conversion Course from Australia. In 1960, Shamim attended the Air War College where he attained M.Sc. in War studies, and later forwarded to join Combat Commander's School where he won the trophy for being one of the distinguished and best fighter pilots in school. In 1962, Shamim was Squadron Leader (Major) and attended the school with another fighter pilot Colonel Cecil Chaudhry. In 1965, Shamim became Wing Commander (Lieutenant-Colonel) and commanded the Pakistan Air Force Sherdils. In 1973, as Group Captain (Colonel) Shamim returned Combat Commander's School where he served their as Chief instructor. There, the PAF detailed him to attend the Command and Staff College to complete a Join-Service staff course. Shamim went to Quetta where Shamim completed a course on Joint Service and also gained M.S. in Military science. After completion of staff course, Shamim was re-posted in Combat Commander's School as Chief Instructor alongside Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry. Shamim was also promoted to as Air-Commodore (Brigadier-General) by the Air Force Promotion Directorate. In 1975, Shamim was promoted to Major-General (Air-vice Marshal) and throughout 1976, Shamim served as Research associate at the National Defence College while he carried out research in his academic discipline. While there, Shamim completed a short-year course on International Defence Management Course in the United States Air Force.

Air Force Career[edit]

Shamim is one of the distinguish fighter pilot that country has produced.[citation needed] One of the top graduate of Combat Commander's School, Shamim actively participated in the 1965 and 1971 Wars. During the Indo-Pakistan 1965 September war, Shamim, as Lieutenant-Colonel (Wing Commander) was second-in-command of the No.33 Fighter Wing, and actively participated in the Air war operations.[citation needed] During this conflict, he was one of the junior OC at Sargodha Air Force Base.[citation needed] After the war, he was honored with Sitara-e-Jura'at by the Pakistan Government. His award citation reads:

"Wing Commander Muhammad Anwar Shamim in his capacity as Officer Commanding, fighter-bombers wing, made significant contribution to the high morale and aggressive attitude of the pilots who flew from this station. He efficiently managed the changing air defence and other requirements and ensured, while fully meeting these requirements, that the pilots got sufficient rest and other comforts to enable them to fly intelligently and confidently. During the operation, he led 14 air defence/escort missions and 5 ground attack missions. His leadership during these operational missions was aggressive and confident and served as a very good example for his pilots to follow . He accepted long hours of duty, including operational sorties at odd hours of the day, with enthusiasm. Wing Commander Muhammad Anwar Shamim was, therefore, awarded Sitara-i-Juraat. "[citation needed]

After the war, the PAF sent him to complete further staff courses. During the Indo-Pakistan Winter War in 1971, Shamim, now as Colonel (Group Captain) was the Air-Defence Commander at South of the Central Air Defence. Shamim too went on to participate in the 13-day war but did not score any hits. After the war, Shamim was sent to Combat Commander's School as Chief Instructor.

Senior staff appointments[edit]

From the 1970s and onwards, Anwar Shamim has held several senior command and staff appointments. During the 1960s, he commanded the No. 11 Squadron Arrows and the No. 33 Wing Dragnov of the Pakistan Air Force as Lieutenant-Colonel (Wing Commander) . He has flown a variety of airplanes and was always current on all fighter aircraft in the PAF inventory. He has served as Officer Commanding of three PAF Bases Masroor, Korangi Creek and Sakesar.

In 1976, as Air Vice Marshal (Major-General), Shamim was made Deputy Director of the Directorate for the Tactical Air War Operations (TAWO) at the Combatant Air Headquarters (AHQ) of Rawalpindi. However, he was replaced by Hakeem Ullah and was posted as Director of Air War Operations (AWO). In 1977, Shamim was promoted to Air Marshal (Lieutenant-General) and was made Assistant Chief of Air Staff and Director General of the Air Research and Plans (ARP), Air Headquarters. The same year, the Air Force appointed Shamim as Air attaché at the Pakistan High Commission to the United Kingdom but the PAF notified Shamim that he has not been cleared. He was immediately advised to go the General's Headquarter (GHQ) to see General Zia-ul-Haq.

On July 23, 1978, the PAF Promotion Directorate promoted Anwar Shamim to a four-star air officer (Air Chief Marshal), bypassing three senior officers.[1] The promotion was brought under the executive presidential order of General Zia-ul-Haq, Chief Martial Law Administrator during this period.

Chief of Air Staff[edit]

As Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Shamim supervised the modernization programme of Pakistan Air Force. Major reforms, intelligence operations, fighter training, strategic programmes were supervised under his command. His long tenure was notable for acquisition of F-16s, A-5, and other fighter jets in the Air Force.

Operation Sentinel[edit]

Operation Opera played a psychological role in Pakistan as it was a successful operation commenced by Israeli Air Force.[2] The Pakistani Establishment and the Pakistan Intelligence Community began to worry about a symmetric operation that will be launched near Kahuta with more advanced weapons being used on the facilities.[2] The Naval Intelligence learned that suspicious activities has been seen near the coastal cities of India, and Indira Gandhi has motives against the nuclear development in Pakistan.[2] As he was made a four-star general in the Pakistan Air Force, Shamim served as one of the most and closest confident of General Zia-ul-Haq.[3] In 1979, while in private, General Zia told Air Chief Marshal Shamim that ISI had reliable intelligence that the Indian Air Force, ordered by Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, has plans to attack and destroy Pakistan's nuclear research facilities at Kahuta, notably the Engineering Research Laboratories.[3] While asking the capability of retaliation, Air Chief Marshal Shamim acknowledged that Indian Air Force could reach the area in 3 minutes whereas the Pakistan Air Force would take 8 minutes, allowing the Indians to attack the facility and return before the Pakistan Air Force could defend it.[3] Because Kahuta is near borders so to effectively defend it, it was decided that the best way to deter an Indian attack would be to procure new advanced fighters and weaponry.[3] But in meanwhile, Air Chief Marshal told General Zia to use diplomacy by sending Munir Ahmad Khan to Indian diplomatic mission in Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.[3]

Shamim then placed Pakistan Air Force on high-alert with alert level 7. Pakistan Air Force jets began to take sorties, equipped with missiles, on regular basis.[2] The intelligence was confirmed by Air Intelligence who recommended the acquisition of Mirage-2000 or F-16 Falcon Fighters at an emergency level.[2] Shamim advocated for the F-16s and acknowledged General Zia about the plans.[2] In 1981, Air Intelligence command became alerted of suspected F-16s jets who had landed near the Indian borders.[2] Shamim alerted the Pakistan Air Force, and a counter operation was launched, Operation Sentinel.[2] Pakistan Air Force jets intercepted the suspected F-16s and confirmed their Israeli identity.[2] Pakistan Air Force jets took aggressive measures and their tactics surprised the Israeli Air Force F-16s.[2] Panicked and surprised, the mission was cancelled and Israeli Air Force F-16s were called off immediately.[2] Pakistan then used Munir Ahmad Khan who was attending IAEA General Conference along with his Indian counterpart Dr. Raja Ramana. The Foreign Office directed a secret-coded message, through Ambassador of Pakistan to Austria Abdul Sattar, to Munir Khan who soon met Dr. Raja Ramana at the Imperial Hotel at Vienna, Austria. There, his Indian counterpart confirmed the possible surgical attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities. During their conversation, Munir Khan told the Chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission that an Indian attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities would trigger a possible Pakistan retaliatory strike on Indian nuclear facilities at Trombay, which will result in the release of radioactivity causing a major disaster. Dr. Raja Ramana held a meeting with Indira Gandhi and conveyed Pakistan's possible response. Indira Gandhi immediately postponed the surprise attack, and subsequently the matter was shelved. Following these events, Indian and Pakistani officials met for negotiations and agreed that both countries would not attack each other's nuclear facilities.[2]

F-16s acquisition programme[edit]

During the democratic regime of Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the American-Pakistan relations were at its worst and severed.[4] The United States had launched a secret diplomatic campaign against Prime minister Bhutto and his colleagues.[4] Major embargo on Air Force was imposed, and the Air Force's modernization programmes were either halted or set backed.[4] After receiving convincing intel that a proper attack, roughly equivalent to that Operation Opera, General Shamim made tremendous efforts to get the F-16 Fighting Falcons from the United States. After the success of Operation Fair Play, the American-Pakistan relations were improved and strengthened.[4] General Shamim then launched the F-16 acquisition programme to induct F-16s in the Pakistan Air Force. In 1983, after two years of convincing the United States Government, the first batch of F-16s were inducted in the Air Force.[2] The day the F-16s were introduced, Air Chief Marshal Shamim wrote to General Zia-ul-Haq that, "now we [PAF] in a position to confirm that Indians will not attack Kahuta because it is amply clear to them that we will retaliate and launch an attack on their atomic station in Trombay, and knowing that they will suffer much more devastation than us, will desist from taking any unwise action".[2][3]

A-5 Introduction Programme[edit]

ACM (General) Shamim, as intensifying his role to modernize the Air Force, negotiated with People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) for the sell to Pakistan Air Force.[citation needed] After test-flying a A-5 Fantan, General Shamim advocated for the aircraft to be inducted in the Air Force.[citation needed] On 20 October 1981, Pakistan had placed an order for the A-5C modified export version.[citation needed] In 1983, the first A-5C Fantan was introduced in the Air Force, and the deliveries were completed January 1984.[citation needed] In 1985, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) launched programme to electronically upgrade the programme and in 1986, modern Westernized technology was integrated in the A-5C aircraft by the PAC.[citation needed] In 1986, General Anwar Shamim launched an upgrade programme for the A-5C to have a capability to carry out the naval and air operations simultaneously.[citation needed] The programme was completed on 19 February 1991.[citation needed]

Air Force Strategic Command[edit]

Shamim was a close confident of General Zia-ul-Haq and had inner circle access in the most confidential programmes.[5] Shamim also developed extremely cordial relations with Munir Ahmad Khan, weapon scientist and nuclear engineer.[5] As Munir Ahmad Khan played an influential and administrative role in Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), General Shamim decided to established the Air Force command that took over the space science operations for the military industrial use only.[5] In the 1980s, under General Shamim, the Air Force Strategic Command was established, with primary objectives to give aerial and external protection to senior academic scientists and the clandestine nuclear deterrence development.[5] Per request of Munir Ahmad Khan and dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistan Government launched the Integrated missiles programme.[5] However, as General Shamim was able to convince General Zia-ul-Haq that missile operations would be better off under the Air Force.[5] The programme was put under the Air Force Strategic Command. The Air Force then authorized and administrated the Hatf missile system (HMS) programme, and the programme was directly reported to General Shamim.[5] The missile was developed as a highly mobile missile for tactical use only. The Air Force Strategic Command then completely took over the space research and development programme ran under the Suparco.[5] The programme, launched and culminated under General Shamim, its first developed missile was successfully launched in 1989 by the Pakistan Air Force.[5] In 1986, just before General Shamim's departure, Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) launched a guided-missile programme under which the tactical weapons were developed and could be dropped by using the toss-bombing method, a method which PAF pilots are reported to be mastered.[5] The programme was completed in 1991 under Munir Ahmad Khan's supervision.[5]

Other awards[edit]

He has received the following awards — Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Military), Hilal-e-Imtiaz Military), Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Military). His foreign decorations include: Al Istiqlal from Royal Jordanian Government and Legion of Merit from the United States of America. Air Chief Marshal Shamim is widely traveled and is a keen sportsman." He won several cups for Tennis, and Soccer as a young officer. "He likes Squash, and" he was very involved in the further development of the athletes and the game when he was the President of "Pakistan and Asian Squash Rackets Federations."[6]

Legacy in the PAF[edit]

Anwar Shamim was the second longest serving PAF chief since Asghar Khan in the 60s. He was CAS for nearly seven years. After President Zia-ul Haq insisted on his extension as Chief of Air Staff, he had to continue his duty. The next officer was as yet junior, and the President wanted him to oversee the full induction of the F-16 before he retired.[7] While there were several allegations of nepotism[8] and improper conduct, But this has been fervently denied by his family[9]

Air Chief Marshal Shamim is also legendary for inducting state-of-the-art F-16 fighter jets into the Pakistan Air Force. This accomplishment was one of the biggest achievements in the history of the Pakistan military. Under Shamim's leadership, the PAF became one of the most operationally efficient air forces in the world.

Personal life[edit]

Anwar Shamim was married in July 1958. His wife, Begum Tahira Shamim was an active social worker and President of Pakistan Air Force Women’s Association, with a professional dedication to welfare work, spanning over twenty-five years. She is a published poet of four Urdu poetry books. He has three children: two daughters, who are attorneys; and a computer engineer son.

Post Retirement[edit]

Post retirement Shamim has been offered several ambassadorships, but has declined them, preferring to focus on family life.


Anwar Shamim died on 4 January 2013 at CMH Rawalpindi after prolonged illness.[10]

State Funeral and Guard of Honour[edit]

Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Anwar Shamim was buried with profound military honours on 5 January 2013. The funeral parade was attended by Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, Admiral Asif Sindhela, Chief of Naval Staff, Ex PAF Air Chiefs, ambassadors/diplomats, war veterans, military officials of brotherly countries, senior civil and military officials of tri-services, senior journalists and people from all walks of life. The family members of late Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Muhammad Anwar Shamim were also present. After the burial, the wreaths were laid at the grave of the deceased on behalf of President of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chief of the Air Staff, Governor Punjab, Army Chief, Navy Chief, retired air chiefs and other dignitaries. [11]

The President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, in his official condolence message, "paid tribute to his services for the nation and prayed to Allah, the Almighty, to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and to give courage to the bereaved family to bear this loss with fortitude." [12]

Published works[edit]

DAWN: Saturday March 12, 1988
Afghanistan Problem: The End In Sight?....I

DAWN: Sunday March 13, 1988
Afghanistan Problem: The End In Sight?....II

DAWN: March 27, 1988
Implication’s of India’s Naval Build-Up.

DAWN: April 4, 1989
Dilemma of the Bureaucracy.

DAWN: Saturday May 20, 1989
What Does Agni Portend?

Cutting Edge PAF: A Former Air Chief's Reminiscences of a Developing Air Force.[13] Vanguard Books (2010). ISBN 978-969-402-540-7.


  1. ^ a b c (PAF), Pakistan Air Force (Updated). "Chiefs of Air Staff Gallery". Pakistan Air Force Directorate for Public and Media relations. Directorate-General for the Inter-Services Public Relations of Pakistan Air Force. Retrieved 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Anwar, PAF, General Shamim (2010). "§ Critical Years: Intelligence and Deception". Cutting Edge PAF: A Former Air Chief's Reminiscences of a Developing Air Force. Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: Vanguard Books. p. 351. ISBN 978-969-402-540-7. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Anwar, PAF, General Shamim (May 17, 2007). "Threat to destroy indian N-plant stopped attack on Kahuta". General (retired) Shamim Anwar, Chief of Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force. Dawn Newspapers. Retrieved 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d Anwar, PAF, General Shamim (2010). "§The Lost Decade". Cutting Edge PAF: A Former Air Chief's Reminiscences of a Developing Air Force. Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: Vanguard Books Publishers. p. 351. ISBN 978-969-402-540-7. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Anwar, PAF, General Shamim (2010). "§21st century Air Force". Cutting Edge PAF: Reminiscences. Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory: Vanguard Books Publishers Co. p. 351. ISBN 978-969-402-540-7. 
  6. ^ History of Pakistan Air Force from 1947–1982, First Edition, May 1982, by Syed Shabir Hussain and Squadron Leader M. Tariq Qureshi, p.220-222. PAF Press Masroor Karachi
  7. ^ PAF s' Chief of Air Staffs
  8. ^ Cecil Choudhary Interview
  9. ^ S Iqbals Response at Chowk
  10. ^ "President condoles death of Anwar Shamim". 2013-01-05. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  11. ^ "Former Air Chief Laid to Rest". The Nation. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "President Condoles Death of Anwar Shamim". Dail Times. 5 January 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  13. ^ Khan, Iftikhar A. (28 May 2010). "Threat to destroy Indian N-plant stopped attack on Kahuta". Pakistan: The Dawn Media Group. Archived from the original on 30 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Zulfiqar Ali Khan
Chief of Air Staff
Succeeded by
Jamal A. Khan