Mushaf Ali Mir

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Air Chief Marshal

Mushaf Ali Mir
ACM Mushaf Ali Mir (1947–2003)
Chief of Air Staff
In office
20 November 2000 – 20 February 2003
Preceded byACM Pervaiz Mehdi Qureshi
Succeeded byACM Kalim Sadat
Chairman Pakistan Aeronautical Complex
In office
Personal details
Mushaf Ali Mir

(1947-03-05)5 March 1947
Lahore, Punjab, British India
(now Lahore in Punjab in Pakistan)
Died20 February 2003(2003-02-20) (aged 55)
Kohat Pass, Kohat District in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Cause of deathAviation accident
Resting placeMominpura Cemetery
Citizenship Pakistan
Military service
Allegiance Pakistan
Branch/service Pakistan Air Force
Years of service1966–2003
RankACM Pakistan Air Force.pngUS-O10 insignia.svgAir Chief Marshal
UnitNo. 25 Squadron Night Strike Eagles
CommandsDCAS (Air Operations)
Central Air Command
Northern Air Command
Project ROSE
Project Green Flash
ACAS (Plans)
Joint Intelligence X (JIX)
Battles/warsIndo-Pakistani war of 1971
Afghan civil war (1996–2001)
Indo-Pakistan standoff (2001–02)
War in Afghanistan (2001–03)
War on Terror
AwardsOrder of Excellence Nishan-e-Imtiaz.pngNishan-i-Imtiaz (military)
Crescent of Excellence Hilal-e-Imtiaz.pngHilal-i-Imtiaz (military)
Star of Excellence Sitara-e-Imtiaz.pngSitara-i-Imtiaz (military)
Star of Good Conduct Sitara-e-Basalat.pngSitara-e-Basalat

Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir (Urdu: مصحف على مير; March 5, 1947 – 20 February 2003) NI(m), HI(m), SI(m), SBt. was an influential statesman and a four-star air force general who served as the Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), appointed on 20 November 2000 until his accidental death in a plane crash on 20 February 2003.[1]

A fighter pilot and a strategist, he briefly served at command level in the ISI before controversially promoted as a four-star air officer to command the air force in 2000.[2] In 2001-02, he also commanded and provided the strategy to deploy troops during the military standoff with India. In addition, Air Chief Marshal Mir later went onto facilitate the United States military's war logistics for war operations in Afghanistan. His appointment was cut short when a former PAF Fokker F-27 in which he was a passenger crashed near Kohat, Pakistan.

His death has been subject of numerous conspiracy theories with many American authors charging him of having advanced-knowledge on terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001.[3]


F-6 in Flight: In 1971, Flying Officer Mir flew his F-6 Farmer against the Indian Air Force's MiG-21, shooting down the Indian MiG with his missile.:103–104[4]

Mushaf Ali Mir was born in Lahore, Punjab in India on 5 March 1947.:11[5] He hailed from the lower middle class family and was of the Kashmiri descent, that practiced the Shia'a principles of Islam.[6]

His father, Farzand Ali Mir, was a calligrapher who died when Mushaf was still young. He attended Govt. Wattan Islamia High School in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.[7] Upon his matriculation from a local school in Lahore, Mir initially attended the Government College University but joined the Pakistan Air Force in 1966 which directed him to attend the famed Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur, after the second war with India.[1][8]

In 1967, he gained commission in the Pakistan Air Force as a P/Off. in the GD(P) branch.[8]

At the PAF Academy, he qualified to fly the F-6 Farmer fighter jet, and was posted to join the No. 25 Squadron Night Strike Eagles in 1970. In 1971, F/Off. Mir successfully flew his F-6 Farmer against the Indian Air Force's MiG-21, and was credited with shooting the Indian Air Force's jet down with his missile.:103–104[4]

After the war in 1971, Flt-Lt. Mir attended the Air War College where he attained his masters in War studies, and later went on to attend the National Defence University where he graduated with masters in Strategic studies.[1] During this time, he became acquainted with then-Brig. Pervez Musharraf.[9][10]

War and command appointments in the military[edit]

In the 1970s, Mir joined the Combat Commander's School, first serving as a student before joining its faculty, eventually commanding an Aggressor squadron composing of Dassault Mirage IIIER to act as an Indian IAF's MiG-29M.:104–105[11] Wing-Commander Mir was a commanding officer of the No. 33 Wing attached at the Northern Air Command and later took over the command of the Southern Air Command as its AOC.[8] In the 1980s, Gp-Capt. Mir was posted as an air attaché at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. in United States.[12]

He qualified to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon, for which he received training from the Nellis Air Force Base, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.[12]

In 1994–95, Air-Commodore Mir, as an ACAS (Plans) at Air AHQ, visited Poland to hold discussions to acquire the Russian Su-27 Flanker but returned since the aircraft was not available.:94–95[13]

In 1995, AVM Mir was appointed as Project-Director of Project Green Flash, aiming to acquire Mirage 2000-V from France, and begin his lobbying to acquire the aircraft after test piloting the fighter jet.:97–98[13] In 1996, Air Vice Marshal Mir was appointed as s Project-Director of Project Falcon that was started negotiating with Turkey and Jordan to acquire F-16As/Bs.:99–100[13]

In 1996-99, Air Vice Marshal Mir took over the command of the Northern Air Command headquartered in Peshawar, and became associated with the ISI, where he aided in providing the aerial support during the civil war in Afghanistan.[5] During this time, Air Vice Marshal Mir was posted as a military adviser to the Saudi Arabian Army and later assumed the short-time command of the Pakistan Armed Forces-Middle East Command before returning to Pakistan for the command appointments.[12]

In 1999, Air-Mshl. Mir was appointed as the chairman of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra.[8]

Chief of Air Staff[edit]

In 2000, ACM PQ Mehdi's retirement was confirmed by President Rafiq Tarar, and the Pakistan MoD sent potentials list of three-star air officers for the promotion of the four-star rank.[2]

At the time of promotion to the four-star appointment, there were six senior air marshals who were in the race which included in seniority:

Eventually, the race for the appointment for the air chief was rumored between Air Marshal Farooq Qari and Air Marshal Riazuddin.[2]

On 13 November 2000, President Rafiq Tarar surprisingly approved the appointment of junior-most Air-Mshl. Mir to be promoted to as the four-star air officer in the air force, and appointed him as the Chief of Air Staff.[2] The surprise promotion and command appointment was said to be at the behest of special and personal requests made by then-Chairman Joint chiefs Gen. Pervez Musharraf.[2][14]

This appointment was one of the center of controversies in the Musharraf administration when superseding air officers had sparked off "rumblings of resentment" at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) in the country.[15] All five superseding air force generals tendered their resignations to President Tarar despite Chairman Joint chiefs Gen. Musharraf's efforts to have all five air force generals to complete their respected terms.[15] In news media, the appointment was also given a strong criticism when the Gen. Musharraf's clique attempted a damage control exercise by pointing out that supersessions were nothing new in the country's military establishment having happened five times in the Air Force and at least four times in the Army.[15]

Despite the agitation and criticism, Air Chief Marshal Mir eventually assumed the command of the air force as its chief on 20 November 2000.[8]

After the deadly terrorist attacks in New York in the United States in 2001, ACM Mir successfully negotiated with the United States Air Force of releasing the spare parts and updating the software of the F-16s.:82[16]

During his tenure, the PAF's F-6 aircraft were retired from service, and were transferred to Bangladeshi Air Force.:63[17] During the military standoff with the Indian Army, ACM Mir placed the air force at war level command, issuing orders for targeting the Indian military posts.[18]

In spite of his closeness to President Musharraf, ACM Mir had strongly objected and opposed the Musharraf administration's policy on War on Terror, that he suspected of intelligence blowback and terror organizations that might be finding the foreign support for their operations to spread sectarian violence in the country.:contents[19]

Death in the air crash[edit]

A civilian PIA Fokker F27 in flight, a similar but military Fokker F-27 that was involved in crash in 2003.

On 20 February 2003, Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir boarded on a Fokker F-27 aircraft operated by the Air Force, alongside with his wife and 15 senior air force officers from Chaklala Air Force Base for a routine flight to Northern Air Command based in Kohat, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan to review the U.S. military's war logistics in Afghanistan.[21][1]

The plane lost contact from its military radars at the Northern Air Command and crashed after hitting the highest peak of the mountain at the Tolanj mountain range in Kohat due to an extreme fog and winter temperature.[22][20][23] Among the casualties were other high-ranking officials of the Pakistan Air Force, including two Principal Staff Officers – Air Vice Marshal Abdul Razzaq, DCAS (Training&Evaluation) and Air Vice Marshal Saleem Nawaz, DCAS (Administration) – and the air crew.[24]

Upon his accidental death, the Pakistan government give him a state funeral, with many foreign dignitaries attending his funeral and was buried in Mominpura cemetery in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.[25]

The Air Force Flight Safety and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ruled out the "act of sabotage" and termed the incident as an accident.[20] Additional inquiries in 2015 resulted by the air force and civilian investigations, the Government declared the aircraft as faulty, not an act of sabotage.[26]

Further military insights revealed at the parliamentary committee noted that the aircraft was in fact faulty as it was earlier identified by first the Navy's inspected team as early as in 1993.[27] The Navy purchased the aircraft for its reconnaissance missions before it was transferred to Army Aviation in 1993, which then transferred the plane to Air Force in 1994, which never reviewed the inspection protocol to assess the performance of the aircraft.[27]


United States United States: American ambassador to Pakistan Nancy Jo Powell expressed her sorrow and grief over the tragic air crash on behalf of the United States.[25]

Iran Iran: Iranian President Syed Mohammad Khatami convened a message to President Pervez Musharraf saying: "While expressing condolence and sympathy to Your Excellency as well as the noble people of Pakistan, I pray to Almighty Allah for forgiveness and Divine blessings for the deceased, and patience and fortitude for the survivors."[25]

Afghanistan Afghanistan: Afghan President Hamid Karzai sent a cable where he noted: "On behalf of the people, government of transitional Islamic state of Afghanistan and on my own behalf, I would like to express deepest sorrow and condolences to Your Excellency and to the families of the victims and to the brotherly people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan."[25]

India India: Indian air chief Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy conveyed sympathies on behalf of the Indian IAF and his own behalf on the sudden and untimely demise of Mushaf Ali Mir.[25]

Pakistan Pakistan: Foreign Minister K.M. Kasuri termed the death of Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir a great loss for Pakistan and its military, and he quoted: "We have lost one of our great sons and a fine soldier; he was an outstanding soldier and his services to Pakistan will always be remembered."[12]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

The 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. Many American authors have leveled charges on Air Chief Marshal Mir having the advanced knowledge during his time as a spymaster in ISI in 1999.:105[28]

Since the plane crash in 2003, Air Chief Marshal Mir's death has attracted significant amount of attention and has been subject of conspiracy theories in media and literature.[29] According to the Gerald Posner, an American journalist, Mir's death in a plane crash was not an accident but an act of sabotage, which he claimed in his book: "Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 911.", written in 2003.:105–194[28]

Several American authors of counterterrorism studies have suspected him of having advanced intelligence knowledge on the planning of the terrorist attacks in the United States by al-Qaeda, during his time when Mir was serving in the ISI as its spymaster.:269[3]:contents[30]:conts.[31]:contents[29]

Subsequently, Posner and his American colleagues have claimed that Osama bin Laden and other Afghan Arabs had struck a deal with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) through Mir in 1996 to get protection, arms, and supplies for Al-Qaeda. The meeting was blessed by the Saudi royal family through Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud— the Saudi intelligence chief.[29]

However, after the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, and a reversal of Pakistani and Saudi stances favoring the Afghan Taliban and their allies al-Qaeda, the three Saudi princes associated with the deals died within days, and seven months after that, Mir's plane crashed in Kohat region of Pakistan.[29]

Prince Turki bin Faisal, on the other hand, was removed as intelligence chief and sent as Ambassador to United Kingdom during the same time.[32]

In 2015, the Air Force's Flight Inquiry Board and the CAA dismissed the claims of sabotage when they submitted their year long investigation reports to the Public Accounts Committee of the Pakistan Parliament, citing the poor maintenance of the aircraft.[26] They backed up their evidence when identifying the faulty Fokker F27 Friendship that the Air Force had transferred the plane to Navy but the aircraft was returned to the Air Force due to its faults during its flight.[26]

According to the analysis written in 2003 by Najam Sethi, a Pakistani commentator, the claims might have been "untrue" but the allegations are very explosives directed towards the Pakistani military.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Hussain, Air-Cdre. (Brig) Jamal. "Obituary: Remembering a Friend". Islamabad: Defence Journal. Archived from the original (web cache) on 17 January 2005. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "New Pak. Air chief supersedes 5 seniors". The Hindu. Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan Bureau. 13 November 2000. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b Unger, Craig (2004). House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties (google books) (1st ed.). New York, U.S.: Simon and Schuster. p. 361. ISBN 9780743266239. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b Bowman, Martin (2016). "Chapter 3: The Indo-Pak Wars" (google books). Cold War Jet Combat: Air-to-Air Jet Fighter Operations 1950-1972 (1st ed.). New York, U.S.: Pen and Sword. p. 259. ISBN 9781473874633. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b Mushaf, Zia, and Liaquat Ali Khan. Lahore, Pakistan: News & Media. 2003. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Khawaja Naseer. "A jewel of the Walled City" Daily Times, 22 February 2003
  8. ^ a b c d e Correspondents, Staff writers (4 November 2000). "New Air Chief designated". (6/42). Islamabad, Pakistan: Dawn Wire Service. Dawn Newspaper. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Obituary". Archived from the original on 17 January 2005.
  10. ^ Hali, Sultan M. (3 February 2017). "Tributes to a humble soul - PakObserver". PakObserver. Pakistan Observers, 2017. Pakistan Observers. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  11. ^ Hussaini, Syed Masood Akhtar; Affairs, Pakistan Air Force Directorate of Media (2002). Pakistan Air Force over the years. Directorate of Media Affairs, Pakistan Air Force.
  12. ^ a b c d Varma, KJM (20 February 2003). "Pakistan's air chief killed in plane crash". Rediff News, 2003. Rediff News. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Shaikh, A. Rashid; et al. (2000). The Story of the Pakistan Air Force, 1988-1998: A Battle Against Odds (1st ed.). karachi, Pakistan: Shaheen Foundation. p. 414. ISBN 9789698553005. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  14. ^ "5 Pak Air Marshals to retire on Monday" Daily Excelsior, 18 November 2000
  15. ^ a b c PTI officials, Press Trust of India (13 November 2000). "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News". Chandigarh, India: Press Trust of India, Pakistan Desk. Press Trust of India. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  16. ^ Afghanistan in Transition (1st ed.). New Delhi: Indian Council of World Affairs. 2003. p. 231. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  17. ^ Chakravarti, S. R. (1994). Foreign policy of Bangladesh. Har-Anand Publications. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  18. ^ "PAF ready to face any challenge: Mushaf". DAWN.COM. 5 June 2002. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  19. ^ Jan, Abid Ullah (2006). From BCCI to ISI: The Saga of Entrapment Continues. ISBN 9780973368765. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  20. ^ a b c d "Funeral held for Pakistan air chief". BBC Pakistan Bureau. BBC. 21 February 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  21. ^ Redd, B. Muralidhar (21 February 2001). "The Hindu : Pak. Air Force chief killed in plane crash". The Hindu, 2003. The Hindu. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  22. ^ Yusufzai, Rahimullah (22 February 2003). "Doomed plane might have hit mountain peak". GulfNews. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  23. ^ Goraya, Abdul-Majid (21 February 2003). "PAF chief killed in air crash: Two AVMs, Mushaf's wife among 17 dead •Inquiry begins". DAWN.COM. Kohat Pass: Dawn Newspaper, AM Goraya. Dawn Newspaper. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Obituary: Dedicated to the Glorious PAF Shaheeds" Defence Journal, March 2003
  25. ^ a b c d e staff writers, agencies. (22 February 2003). "Air chief's death condoled". DAWN.COM. Dawn Newspaper, 2003. Dawn Newspaper. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  26. ^ a b c GEO Urdu; et al. (5 October 2015). "Fokker that caused martyrdom of Mushaf Ali Mir was faulty". News International, 2015. News International. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  27. ^ a b Rahman, Javaid (6 October 2015). "'Faulty plane behind air chief's crash-death'". The Nation. The Nation. The Nation. Retrieved 19 January 2018. The committee head Rana Afzaal, giving three months time to present report to the committee, said “due to a faulty aircraft we lost Air chief .”
  28. ^ a b Posner, Gerald (2003). Why America slept : the failure to prevent 9/11 (google books) (1st ed.). New York, U.S.: Random House. p. 241. ISBN 9780375508790. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  29. ^ a b c d Sullivan, John Jeremiah (2005). Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son (google books). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9781429928083. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  30. ^ Grundy, George (2017). "Abu Zubaidah and the Dead Saudis" (google books). Death of a Nation: 9/11 and the Rise of Fascism in America (1st ed.). Washington D.C.: Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN 9781510721265. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  31. ^ Marrs, Jim (2006). The Terror Conspiracy: Deception, 9;11 and the Loss of Liberty (1st ed.). Bloomington: Red Wheel Weiser. ISBN 9781934708361. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  32. ^ Johanna McGeary. "Confessions of a Terrorist" Time Magazine, 31 August 2003
  33. ^ Sethi, Najam (5 September 2003). "Come Clean". Islamabad: Najam Sethi , 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2018.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi
Chief of Air Staff
2000 – 2003
Succeeded by
Kaleem Saadat