Pervaiz Mehdi Qureshi

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Air Chief Marshal
Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi
پرویز مہدی قریشی
15th Chief of Air Staff
In office
November 7,1997 – November 20, 2000
President Muhammad Rafiq Tarar
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Preceded by Abbas Khattak
Succeeded by Mushaf Ali Mir
Personal details
Born (1943-10-01) 1 October 1943 (age 74)
Awards Sword of Honour
Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Military service
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1964–2000
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Air Chief Marshal (General)
Unit No. 16 Squadron Black Panthers
Commands Chief of Air Staff
No. 9 Squadron Griffins
Central Air Command
Southern Air Command
Air Defence Command
ACAS Air Logistics
DCAS Air Operations
Vice Chief of Air Staff
No. 14 Squadron Tail Choppers
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Indo-Pakistani War of 1999

Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi (Urdu: پرویز مهدی قریشی; 1 October 1943; NI(M)) is a retired four-star rank air officer (Air Chief Marshal) who served as the fifteenth Chief of Air Staff from 1997 until 2000. Before elevating to the four-star assignment, Qureshi served as the commander of the Central Air Command, Southern Air Command and the Air Defence Command and was finally promoted to four-star rank by Prime minister Navaz Sharif in 1997.

As chief of air staff, P Qureshi commanded the combatant units and formations of the PAF during the non-declared 1999 Indo-Pakistani war. After serving his three-years designated tenure, Qureshi took the honorary retirement and succeeded by much junior officer Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir in November 2000 as chief of air staff.

Air Force career[edit]

After passing the university exams, Mehdi applied for the PAF Academy in Risalpur in 1961. His physical examinations, standardise education, and military qualifications tests were taken in Karachi. During the initial years of testings, Mehdi shared a room with Pervez Musharraf of army and Abdul Aziz Mirza of navy whom he became befriended with.[1] After giving the initial military exams and interviews to joint officers of the armed forces, PQ Mehdi, along with Musharraf and Mirza, went to see the world-claim Urdu movie, "Savera (lit. Dawn)". The next day, all three were called to reported back to their respected academies and were selected for their respected training in their arms of commission.[1]

Indo-Pakistani conflicts (1965–1971)[edit]

Mehdi graduated in a same year of batch with Pervez Musharraf and Mirza on 20 June 1964 from the PAF Academy with a 38th GD(P) course, and was conferred with Sword of Honour for his high academic standings. Initially commissioned as a fighter pilot in the PAF, Mehdi certified in close-air support and combat operations after attending a fighter pilot course. His abilities were put in the test when he was assigned to a combat mission by Eric Gordon Hall, commander of Chaklala Air Force Base. He took participation in the air operations against Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. After the war, PQ Mehdi was promoted to Flying Officer (Lieutenant) in 1966; and Flight Lieutenant (Captain) in 1969.

In 1969, PQ Mehdi was made commanding officer of the No. 14 Squadron Tail choppers and was stationed in East-Pakistan to assist the East Pakistan Air Force. Mehdi joined his college friend Lieutenant Abdul Aziz Mirza who was serving as the military advisor the East Pakistan Army (although Mirza was recalled to Pakistan to serve with Musharraf). After attending several meetings, PQ Mehdi began commanding the air bombing missions in East Pakistan and took participation in Operation Barisal led by the Navy in 1971. While attacking enemy ground units during a close air support mission, his group of three F-86 Sabre fighters were attacked by four Indian Folland Gnats. According to a Bangladeshi source, Qureshi's group was at a significant disadvantage because there were no radars in East Pakistan to warn them, whereas the attacking Indian fighters were directed by Indian radar controllers at Barrackpore.[2] Confrontation with Indian Air Force began to took place in 1971 and Qureshi made first contact with Indian Air Force on 21 November 1971 took active part in the Battle of Garibpur, to participate in a close-air support to Pakistan Army. On 22 November 1971, Qureshi made second bogey contact while flying a F-86 Sabres and engage with Folland Gnats flown by counterpart Roy Andrew Massey.[citation needed] During the close air war, Qureshi was shot down and taken Prisoner of War, later being released to Pakistan in 1972.

Combat assignments[edit]

After returning to Pakistan, Qureshi resumed his service with PAF and but did not assumed any combat assignments at an immediate. After the war, Mehdi was sent to attend the Air War College in 1974; he obtained MSc in the Air logistics and joined the faculty of the Combat Commanders School (CCS) in 1976 as a qualified flying instructor. In 1976, he was promoted to Squadron Leader (Major); in 1979, Mehdi went to attend the Armed Forces War Course from National Defence University in Rawalpindi. There, Mehdi obtained an MSc in Strategic studies and completed a joint-forces courses from there in 1981.

In 1981, Mehdi was promoted to Wing-Commander (lieutenant-colonel) and assumed to command of No. 9 Squadron Griffins. In 1985, he was promoted to Group Captain (colonel) and was appointed as the base commanding officer of the Sargodha Air Force Base, a strategically important PAF base. In 1987, Mehdi was promoted to one star officer, an Air-Commodore (brigadier) and assumed the command of the Southern Air Command (SAC) as its senior air staff officer. He did not play any significant role in Pakistan's proxy war in the 1979–89 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1987, Mehdi launched a high-alert operation to attempt any Indian Air Force' surgical strike against Pakistan during the timeline of Operation Brasstacks. In 1991, Mehdi was promoted to air vice-marshal assumed the Command of Air Defence Command (ADC) as its officer commanding; the command is a joint operations command that features considerable interaction amongst the three inter-services. In 1994, became the commander of Central Air Command. In 1995, Mehdi was three-star assignment following promoted to Air Marshal rank and shifted to Air Combatant Headquarters (AHQ).[3] His first command staff assignment was ACAS of Air Operations and the all-important DCAS of Air Operations in 1996; this assignment succeeded with the posting as vice chief of air staff (VCAS) in the air force.[3]

In 1997, Prime minister Navaz Sharif gave approval of Mehdi's four-star rank promotion.[3] He was promoted to Air Chief Marshal (a four-star rank) and became fifteenth chief of air staff.[3] The promotion came after Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak took retirement in November 1997.[3]

Kargil conflict[edit]

In 1998, general Pervez Musharraf was appointed chief of army staff and chairman joint chiefs shortly. Mehdi was widely known to have an imposing personality, PQ Mehdi publicly warned the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to involve PAF in the Kargil war.[4] During the meeting with Prime minister and chiefs of armed forces, Mehdi quoted that: "(sic)....(...) ... any intervention by the PAF into disputed land of Indian-controlled Kashmir would be perceived as an escalation to all-out declared war.".[4] The PAF restricted to intervene in the conflict but the GHQ took the matter to AHQ to resolve the matter.[4] The PAF war officers well knew that "cross-border attack (whether across LOC or the international border) would invite an immediate response from the Indian Air Force, possibly in the shape of a retaliatory strike against the home base of the intruding fighters, thus starting the first round.".[4] In addition, the embargo enforced by the United States since 1990 had badly effected the PAF's operational capabilities to carry out day-and-night combat missions.[4] After much discussions, the F-16s were deployed but under the country's airspace and did not part in the war, although the aircraft began patrolling the Skardu air force base only to protect the base from any Indian Air Force incursion.[4]

At several meetings, Mehdi had objected Musharraf's plans and strategy during the Kargil incursion. Mehdi pointed the aftermath of Chengiz Khan, a successful mission of PAF but it led the start of 1971 war which end up as a disaster for Pakistan.[4] Therefore, Mehdi objected any direct confrontation mission[4] but favoured the patrolling missions and remaining silent in support of other officers who gave vital criticism of Musharraf.[4]


Colleagues and friends who worked with Mehdi noted that "Qureshi's rather straight-faced and forthright dealings with a somewhat junior general Pervez Musharraf (although both graduated with same class) particularly during Kargil conflict was a good reason to believe that the general decided to appoint a not-very-senior air chief marshal whom he could order around like one of his Corps Commanders.".[4] Therefore, General Musharraf favoured to superseded five senior sir marshals and appointed a sixth-in-line to the four-star rank once Mehdi was due for retirement.[4] However this perception was proved wrong by a new chief of air staff who was as solid as his predecessor and gave no quarter when it came to PAF's interests.[4]


  1. ^ a b Musharraf, Pervez (25 September 2006). In the Line of Fire: A Memoir (1 ed.). Pakistan: Free Press (publisher). pp. 40–60. ISBN 074-3283449. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Air Cdre (Retd) Ishfaq Choudhury. "Air aspect of the Liberation War 1971". Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Release. "Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi, NI(M), S Bt". PAS Falcoms (unofficial). Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Tufail, PAF, Brigadier Kaisar (28 January 2009). "Himalayan Showdown". Air Forces Monthly (UK). Retrieved 18 May 2012. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Abbas Khattak
Chief of Air Staff
Succeeded by
Mushaf Ali Mir