Pervaiz Mehdi Qureshi

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Pervaiz Mehdi Qureshi
8th Chief of Air Staff
In office
7 November 1997 – 20 November 2000
Preceded by ACM Abbas Khattak
Succeeded by ACM Mushaf Ali Mir
Personal details
Born Pervez Mehdi Qureshi
(1943-10-01) 1 October 1943 (age 74)
Phalia, Punjab, British India
(Present-day in Punjab, Pakistan)
Military service
Nickname(s) PQ Mehdi
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1961–2000
Rank ACM Pakistan Air Force.pngUS-O10 insignia.svgAir Chief Marshal
Unit No. 16 Squadron Black Panthers
Commands Vice Chief of Air Staff
DCAS (Operations)
AOC Central Air Command
Northern Air Command
Air Defence Command
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Bangladesh Liberation War
East-Pakistan air operations
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Indo-Pakistani War of 1999
Awards Order of Excellence Nishan-e-Imtiaz.pngNishan-i-Imtiaz (military)
Star of Good Conduct Sitara-e-Basalat.pngSitara-i-Basalat
Sword of Honour @ Royal Military College of Canada.jpgSword of Honour

Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi (Urdu: پرویز مهدی قریشی; b. 1 October 1943) NI(M), SBt, best known as PQ Mehdi, is a retired four-star rank air force general and a former fighter pilot who served as the eighth Chief of Air Staff (CAS) of the Pakistan Air Force, appointed in 1997 until retiring in 2000.

His tenureship to command the Pakistan Air Force is notable during the events involving the short-lived military conflict with the Indian Army in the Indian-held Kashmir in 1999. He is credited for advising against the all-out war with India to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, eventually providing an exit to Pakistan Army to deescalate the situation through diplomacy with India.:59[1]


Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi was born in Phalia, Punjab, India, into a Punjabi family on 1 October 1943.:112[2] After graduating from a local high school, Mehdi joined the Pakistan Air Force in 1961, and shared a room with Pervez Musharraf and Aziz Mirza, whom he enjoyed his lifelong friendship, when he being was selected for their respected military academies.:40–66[3]

After their interview with the local commandants, Mehdi, Musharraf, and Mirza went to see the world-claim Urdu movie, "Savera (lit. Dawn)".:40–66[3] 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.:40–66[3] Mehdi entered in the famed Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and passed out in the class of 38th GD Pilot course where he was also conferred with the Sword of Honour by the commandant of the Air Force Academy in 1964.[4]

After gaining commissioned in the No. 16 Squadron Black Panthers of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) as P/Off (2nd-Lt.), he qualified as the fighter pilot, flying the F-86 Sabre jet.:199[5]

Between the wars and prisoner of war[edit]

F-86 in flight: Capt. Mehdi was fired down by Indian Gnat in 1971.:cont.[6]

In 1965, P/Off (2nd-Lt) Mehdi participated in the closed air combat operations during the second war with India where he flew his F-86 Sabre against the Indian Folland Gnat.:199[5] After the war, P/Off (2nd-Lt) Mehdi was promoted as F/Off (Lieutenant) in 1966; and Flight-Lieutenant (Captain) in 1969.:199[5]

In 1969, Flt-Lt. (Capt.) Mehdi was then dispatched to serve in the Eastern Command of the Pakistani military in East-Pakistan, serving in the No. 14 Squadron Tail choppers.[7] In 1970, Flt-Lt. Mehdi took over the command of his No. 14 Squadron Tail choppers as its commanding officer, stationed in Dacca HQ.:contents[8] In 1970–71, Flt-Lt. (Capt.) Mehdi actively took participation in the air operations in East Pakistan against the Indian Army and their supported insurgent group, Mukti Bahini.[8]

On 22 November 1971, Capt. Mehdi flew his combat mission while flying his F-86 Sabre in support of operation in Garipur against the Indian Air Force.:105–106[9]

Capt. Mehdi's capture and subsequent imprisoned occurred on 23 November 1971 when he was flying with the finger-four formation of the ground attack/bomber unit near the Eastern India when his F-86 Sabre was shot down by the .20 mm machine gun mounted on the Folland Gnat.:contents[8] His Wingmen, F/Off Khalil Ahmad and Wg-Cdr Chourdhri, who were also shot down, were fortunate enough to escape towards the Pakistani side of the Indo-East Pakistan border.[7] Capt. Mehdi parachutted 50 yrs. behind the Chaugachha Upazila where he was pulled by the Indian Army soldiers, and he was physically attacked by the Indian Army soldiers before being rescued by the Captain H.S. Panag, the section commander of the Indian Army.[7] His capture as POW made him the first Pakistani POW and was eventually taken under the custody of Captain H.S. Panag who later sent him to Fort Williams.[7] At the time of his capture, his 9 mm pistol, survival kit, aviator glasses, and the photo of his wife was recovered by Captain H.S. Panag.[7]

His status as the first prisoner of war made the front pages of the Indian newspapers, and the photos of his capture were widely circulated in the black-and-white television screens of the Pakistani news media.:231[10] Upon hearing and watching the news, President Yahya Khan imposed the state of emergency, and ordered the military for the preparation of war with India on 23 November 1971.:contents[8]

According to the East-Pakistani sources, the No. 14 Squadron Tail choppers suffered with immense casualties due to lack of effective radars that would provide them with an early warning, whereas the attacking Indian Air Force planes were directed by Indian radar controllers at Barrackpore.[11] Photos his capture and stills taken from the combat camera were later leaked in the internet in 2010s.[7]

Repatriation, war and command appointments in the military[edit]

The population transfer agreement signed between the Governments of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh made it possible of war prisoner to be transported back to Pakistan from India in 1973–75. Upon his return, Capt. PQ Mehdi was directed to attend the war course at the Air War College where he attained master's degree in War studies in 1976.:177[12] In 1977, Squadron-Leader (Major), Mehdi served to join the faculty of the Combat Commanders School (CCS), a TOPGUN training school, which he remained associated with several years.:200–201[12]

From 1977–79, Wing-Commander (Lt-Col.) Mehdi served as the commanding officer when he commanded the No. 9 Squadron Griffins, stationed in Sargodha Air Force Base.:296[13] In 1981–83, Group-Captain (Col.) Mehdi was appointed as the base commander of the Sargodha AFB.:199[4] During this time, Grp-Capt. (Col.) Mehdi qualified as a combat pilot to fly the F-16s.:25[14]

In 1991–93, Air-Cdre (Brig.) Mehdi was appointed AOC of the Southern Air Command, based in Sindh, Pakistan, and was promoted to the two-star rank, moved to command the Northern Air Command.:199[4] In 1993, AVM (Maj-Gen.) Mehdi took over the command of the Air Defence Command, then-based in the Chaklala AFB.:199[4] In 1995, Maj-Gen. Mehdi was eventually promoted to the three-star rank, posted at the Air AHQ in Islamabad when he was appointed as DCAS (Operations), which he remained in this capacity until 1997.:199[4]

In 1997, Air-Marshal (Lieutenant-General) Mehdi was elevated and appointed as the Vice Chief of Air Staff (VCAS) under then-air chief Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak.:199[4][15]

Chief of Air Staff[edit]

Contingency plan of Kargil in 1999.

On 7 November 1997, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the promotion papers of Air-Mshl (Lt-Gen.) PQ Mehdi to be elevated to the four-star rank, Air Chief Marshal (General), and subsequently took over the command of the Pakistan Air Force as its Chief of Air Staff (CAS) on 8 November 1997.:113–114[16][15][15][17] As an air chief, ACM (Gen.) PQ Mehdi played a crucial role in expanding the educational scope of the Air War College in Karachi, and backed up the military's plan for enhancing its communication capabilities between the branches of the Pakistani military.:137–177[12]

In 1998, ACM (Gen.) PQ Mehdi backed and spoke in favor of authorizing the nuclear weapon testing during the national security meeting with the civilian cabinet.[18] Gen. Mehdi issued directives to the F-16s belonging to the No. 11 Squadron Arrows to escort the C-130H to strategically airlift six-to-seven nuclear device in tight finger-four formation to the weapon-testing sites in Balochistan, Pakistan.[18][19] ACM Mehdi did not comment or offered any opinion when Prime Minister Sharif relieved the military commission of then-Chairman Joint chiefs General Jehangir Karamat in 1998.[20]

Kargil conflict[edit]

ACM (Gen.) Mehdi commanded the air force during the two-month long military confrontation with the Indian Army in 1999. During this conflict and meeting with the chairman joint chiefs, ACM (Gen.) Mehdi advised against having the air force involved with the Indian Air Force, quoting: "(sic)...any intervention by the PAF into disputed land of Indian Kashmir would be perceived as an escalation to all-out declared war."[20] Despite the strong urings of the JS HQ, the Air AHQ issued orders to their commanders to restrict the war efforts, knowing that "cross-border attacks either on the side of the 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.".[20]

Furthermore, the aerial embargo placed by the United States in 1989–91 had badly affected the operational capabilities of the air force to carry out day-and-night combat missions.[20] 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.[20] After the aerial mission flew to support the Indian Army, the F-16s from the Northern Air Command were deployed for combat air patrol that began patrolling the Skardu Air Force Base only to protect the base from any Indian Air Force incursion.[20]

At several meetings, ACM (Gen.) Mehdi had objected Gen. Musharraf's grand strategy when he pointed out 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.[20] Therefore, Mehdi objected any direct confrontation mission[20] but favoured the patrolling missions and remaining silent in support of other officers who gave vital criticism of Musharraf.[20]


In the military and political circles, ACM (Gen.) Mehdi's image was widely known to have an imposing personality, and a direct but strict attitude towards his principles.[20] His retirement was eventually confirmed when a junior-most air force general was promoted take succeed him, leading to speculations that "PQ Mehdi'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.".[20]

Therefore, General Musharraf favoured to superseded five senior air force generals and appointed a sixth-in-line to the four-star rank once Mehdi was due for retirement.[20] 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.[20]


  1. ^ Baig, Ebad; Anwar, Mohammad (2012). "Kargil Conflict: May to July 1999". Pakistan: Time for Change (google books). Islamabad: AuthorHouse. p. 170. ISBN 9781477250310. 
  2. ^ Siddiqui, Shabnam; Waslekar, Sundeep (2002). Pillai, Leena, ed. The Future of Pakistan (1st ed.). Mumbai: Strategic Foresight Group. p. 112. ISBN 9788188262007. 
  3. ^ a b c Musharraf, Pervez (2008). "The Potters' Wheel". In the Line of Fire (googlebooks) (1st ed.). Islamabad: Simon and Schuster. p. 368. ISBN 9781847395962. Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Excerpts from SP Volume. Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c SP's Military Yearbook (googlebooks). India: Guide Publications. 1999. 
  6. ^ Lal, Indian IAF, ACM P. C. (2013). "Gnats". In Lal, Ella. My Years with the IAF (google books) (1st ed.). New Delhi, India: Lancer Publishers LLC. ISBN 9781935501756. Retrieved 28 December 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Panag, IA, Lt. Gen. H.S. (8 June 2016). "When I captured the man who would be Pakistan's Air Chief". New Delhi: Newslaundry. Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c d Singh, Indian IAF, Gp. Capt. Ranbir (2009). "Chottu's incredible Flight Across the Border". Memorable War Stories (googlebooks) (1st ed.). New Delhi: Prabhat Prakashan. ISBN 9788188322664. Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  9. ^ Bowman, Martin (2016). "§The Indo-Paks Wars". Cold War Jet Combat: Air-to-Air Jet Fighter Operations 1950-1972 (googlebooks) (1st ed.). Oxford, UK: Pen and Sword. p. 210. ISBN 9781473874633. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 
  10. ^ Chander, Prakash (2003). India and Pakistan : unending conflict. New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation. ISBN 9788176484039. 
  11. ^ Air Cdre (Retd) Ishfaq Choudhury. "Air aspect of the Liberation War 1971". Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c Shaikh, A. Rashid; et al. (2001). The Story of the Pakistan Air Force, 1988-1998: a battle against odds (1st ed.). Islamabad, Pakistan: Shaheen Foundation. p. 414. ISBN 9789698553005. 
  13. ^ Hussain, Syed Shabbir; Qureshi, M. Tariq (1982). History of the Pakistan Air Force: 1947-1982 (googlebooks). Islamabad: Pakistan Air Force. p. 332. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 
  14. ^ Jane's International Defense Review: IDR. Jane's Information Group. 1998. 
  15. ^ a b c Release. "Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi, NI(M), S Bt". PAS Falcoms (unofficial). Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  16. ^ Sehgal, Ikram (1998). "Air Chief Marshal Parvaiz Mehdi Qureshi". Defence Journal. Ikram ul-Majeed Sehgal PUBLICATIONS. 2 (1-6): 120. 
  17. ^ Staff writer, Correspondents (27 July 2001). "ACM Parvaiz Mehdi assumes charge". Islamabad: Dawn Newspapers. Dawn newspapers. Archived from the original (.txt) on 9 November 1997. Retrieved 27 December 2017. 
  18. ^ a b Hali, SM (25 March 2009). "A new dawn". Special report on PAF by SM Hali. THe Nation, 2009. THe Nation. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  19. ^ Azam, R.M. Saleh (June 2000). "When Mountains Move: The Story of Chagai". Islamabad, Pakistan: Defence Journal. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 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