Air Marshal Shahid Lateef: What is the story?

Javed Chaudhry offers an interesting story in today’s op-ed in Daily Express regarding the appointment of the new Chief of Air Staff.

My view is that Air Marshall Shahid Lateef was VCAS and rarely do VCAS become the Air Chief, usually it is the DCAS (Operations) or the Air Officer Commanding of the Central Air Command or more recently the AOC of PAC Kamra, which are the three appointments that usually lead to the CAS position. DCAS (O) is generally considered to be the most influential position in PAF after the CAS.


Shahid Latif appointed vice air chief

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday appointed Air Marshal Shahid Lateef as Vice Chief of the Air Staff, an official announcement said.

Air Marshal Shahid Lateef was commissioned in the General Duties (Pilot) Branch on April 7, 1974. He earned the coveted Sword of Honour on graduation from the PAF Academy, Risalpur. He has served as a fighter pilot in various squadrons of the PAF and was among the pioneers of F-16 induction programme in the PAF.

He was also deputed in the Abu Dhabi Air Force. During his career, he has commanded a fighter squadron, a fighter wing and an operational air base. He has held various key staff appointments at the Air Headquarters including the JF-17 Project.

He has been associated with the development and production programme of JF-17 Thunder aircraft for nearly eight years, initially as deputy chief project director and then as chief project director for five years. In his last assignment, he was serving as deputy chief of the air staff (operations) since April, 2006. staff report (Daily Times, 16 November 2007)

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007\11\16\story_16-11-2007_pg7_8

Who will be new Air Chief?

Abdul Baqi

Pakistan is facing multiple problems on regional level and the gravest of all is terrorism which is hampering relations with our neighboring country. The Indians are trying to take advantage of this for their own interests. As a result, war like situation prevails which is quite evident at least on the diplomatic front. In this scenario, all decisions at the national level matter a lot. President Asif Ali Zardari recently had mad a decision of this nature by appointing Admiral Noman Bashir as the Naval Chief of Staff in accordance with merit. Now the decision of appointment of the Air Chief is getting near. Three years tenure of the incumbent Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) will be culminating on the 18th of March, 2009. Traditionally, the nomination of the CAS designate takes place four to five weeks earlier, in this case by the 12th to 18th of February, 2009.

As always, speculations have already started making the rounds; but the decision this time is apparently quite simple, and as such the President should not have any difficulty in making the right selection. The CAS designate ought to have the experience, exposure and the caliber to lead PAF into the next three years with confidence, as the air threat has become highly complex and in our scenario, the chances of it materializing have increased manifold. The number one choice is obviously, the present Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS), Air Marshal Shahid Lateef. He joined the PAF in September, 1971 and was commissioned in April, 1974. As the top appointment holder in PAF Academy, he graduated with top honours, and was awarded the coveted Sword of Honour. Due to his outstanding performance on the Chinese F-6 aircraft, he converted on to the French Mirages at an early stage of his career. Then he was selected in the elite group of first six PAF pilots to undergo F-16 conversion in the USA. Shahid Latif was the first pilot to ferry the F-16 from USA to Pakistan in 1982, and subsequently, formed part of the pioneer team for training pilots in Pakistan on the F-16 weapon system. He along with these very pilots flew numerous combat missions in defense of the country at the height of Afghan war in the 1980s. He was sent to UAE where he was entrusted with the command of a Mirage squadron; this honour is unprecedented in the Arab countries as only the locals are given such sensitive and prestigious appointments. With this high- profile record, he was selected to command a fighter squadron, fighter wing and a fighter base in the PAF.

On being promoted to the rank of Air vice Marshal, he was handed over the JF-17 project; a programme that was not able to take off due to serious difficulties, forcing the PAF to continue to operate obsolete equipment. Through his relentless efforts, the JF-17 was picked up from the drawing board and ultimately launched into the skies. The completion of this modern fighter aircraft in less than three years is a record in the recent aircraft development history. It was due to his persevering commitment and the unparalleled progress made by this project that he led this very prestigious national strategic programme for five years as the Chief Project Director. The PAF and indeed the country are indebted to him for this supreme contribution that he has made towards building up the operational capability of the PAF. The aircraft has tremendous potential for export and could thus play a major role in uplifting the national economy by earning hundreds of millions of dollars for Pakistan. The JF-17 has entered into the PAF and it would go on replacing all aircraft on the PAF inventory except the F-16s which have a remaining life. After this proud achievement, AVM Shahid was promoted to the rank of Air Marshal and appointed as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations). One and a half year later, he took over as Vice Chief of the Air Staff, the position he holds till today. He is a graduate of Naval War Course and the Armed Forces War Course. He has led the PAF in many war games held at the National level. Despite his enviable career, he is a very polite, humble and God fearing individual. He is married and has four daughters. The number two officer in terms of seniority is Air Marshal Khalid Chaudhry. He is from the same course as Air Marshal Shahid Lateef. He also carries good reputation as a professional; he was retained on the F-6 weapon system till 1984, after which he was converted on the F-16 in Pakistan. Due to his professionalism, he has commanded a squadron, a fighter wing and a fighter base. On promotion to the rank of Air Vice- Marshal, he took over as Air Officer Commanding Central Air Command.

Khalid Chaudhry served in the Air Headquarters as Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Logistics); subsequently, he took over as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations), where he worked for only four months before being moved out as Chairman PAC Kamra, a position that he has held for the last three years. He is a graduate of the Air war Course and Royal College of Defense Studies, UK. He has not attended the Armed Forces War Course or National Defense Course at the National Defense University. He is known to be a humble individual with religious bent. He is married and has a son and two daughters. The number three officer in line is Air Marshal Hifazatullah Khan. He joined the PAF in March 1972 and was commissioned in October, 1974. He graduated 18th out of a batch of 26. He remained on the F-6s till 1981 after which he converted on to the Mirages. He has commanded a Squadron and a fighter base. He did not command a fighter wing as he was abroad as the Air Attaché in Saudi Arabia. On promotion to the rank of Air Vice Marshal, he was appointed as DG NAB, NWFP.

Having stayed in that position for two years Hifazatullah Khan then took over as Air Officer Commanding, Northern Air Command. When he was promoted to the rank of Air Marshal by the incumbent CAS, he was placed as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Personnel), the only position he has held in the present rank for the last three years. He is a graduate of the Air War Course and French War Course. He is married and has four sons. Both, Air Marshals Khalid Chaudhry and Hifazatullah are two of very few officers who have risen to the rank of Air Marshal without having attended the Armed Forces War Course or National Defense Course at the National Defense University. here are two other Air Marshals. If the President decides to go down to number four or five, he would have by-passed 60% of the officers in the three-star category. Such a loss of seniority and experience would be detrimental to the Pakistan Air Force. After every few years, for one reason or the other, the strategic enticement of subcontinent shapes up that has now assumed ominous proportions. In the light of the latest development between India and Pakistan, while the speculations for surgical strikes are in the air, the Air Power is expected to play a leading role. The PAF therefore, needs a leader who has seen it all and has the acumen, experience and respect of its men. It is hoped that like in the recent case of the Pakistan Navy, the President would make the right choice based on merit and seniority as the security of the country depends on this very important and crucial decision.

—The writer is Islamabad based defense analyst.

Pakistan Observer

27 Janury 2009

http://pakobserver.net/200901/27/Articles04.asp

….

Names for new air chief shortlisted

Monday, January 12, 2009

By Mazhar Tufail

ISLAMABAD: Three names have been forwarded to President Asif Ali Zardari for appointment of new chief of the air staff of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), official sources told The News here on Sunday.

“The new chief of air staff will succeed the incumbent CAS, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed, who is going to retire on completion of his three-year tenure on March 20,” said an official, who wished not to be identified.

“Initially five senior officers were proposed for final selection and names of three of them have been forwarded to the president,” he added. According to official sources those initially considered for the top office of the PAF included Air Marshal Shahid Latif, serving as deputy chief of air staff; Air Marshal Khalid Chaudhry, working as chairman of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra; Air Marshal Rao Qamar, working as deputy chief of staff (operations); Air Marshal Hifazatullah, serving as deputy chief of staff (personnel); and Air Marshal Yousaf Chaudhry, serving as deputy chief of air staff (support). Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed had taken over as the 18th CAS on March 20, 2006, on completion of three-year tenure of his predecessor. Among his achievements is the successful induction and up-gradation of Mirage III aircraft acquired from Libya to make 27th squadron of the PAF.

The incumbent CAS is a qualified flying instructor and a graduate of the Combat Commanders School, Sargodha, PAF’s equivalent to US Navy’s ‘TOPGUN’. He has commanded a fighter squadron, the choicest F-16s 38th Tactical Flying Wing, PAF Base Sargodha, and his alma mater, the PAF Academy, Risalpur. He has flown the American F-86 Sabre and F-16 Falcon aircraft and other aircraft of Chinese and French origin on the PAF inventory. He also served in UAE Air Force as a fighter instructor pilot.

Air Marshal Khalid Chaudhry, who was among five air marshals considered for elevation to the post of CAS, commanded the PAF Base, Sargodha as well as F-16 and Combat Commanders School. A graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies, UK, he also served as the deputy chief of air staff (operations & logistics).

For the last three years, he is serving as the chairman of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra. The JF-17 Thunder jet project was launched and Pakistan joined the elite club of aircraft manufacturing countries during his tenure. He has been awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military) and Tamgha-e-Basalat.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=19568

….

Qamar Suleman appointed new air chief

Monday March 09, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Air Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has been appointed the new Chief of Air Staff. He will take over the command of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on March 18. Suleman, who belongs to Okara, will succeed Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed, who retires from service on March 18. President Asif Ali Zardari has appointed Air Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman after consultation with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

The presidential decision put to rest all speculation about the appointment. Reports in the press had discussed many names but Rao Suleman did not appear among them. On seniority list, Air Marshal Suleman is at No. 4 and has superceded Air Marshal Shahid Latif (Vice Chief of Air Staff), Air Marshal Khalid Chaudhry (Chairman PAC Kamra) and Air Marshal Hifazatullah (Deputy CAS-Personnel).

Currently, Air Marshal Rao Suleman is working as Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operatins) and considered to be the best choice given his experience in the force.

Many say that the outgoing air chief recommended Air Marshal Rao Suleman as the next chief and his advice was given due consideration by the president, who took the decision after consultation with the prime minister.

The decision has come a day after the Pakistan Air Force and a Chinese firm signed an agreement for serial production of JF-17 (Thunder) jets. Under this agreement 42 fighter jets would be jointly produced for the PAF.

Born in 1954, Air Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman got his initial education at the PAF College Sargodha. Subsequently, he joined Pakistan Air Force and graduated in 1975. He is a fighter pilot, a qualified flying instructor and has served as instructor at the Combat Commanders’ School. He has commanded a fighter squadron, a flying wing, a fighter base and a regional air command.

In staff jobs at the Air Headquarters, the Air Marshal has served as Deputy Director in Operations Branch, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Plans) and Deputy Inspector General of Pakistan Air Force at Inspector General’s Branch. At senior assignments, the Air Marshal has the distinction of having served as Commandant Air War College, Air Officer Commanding Southern Air Command and Director General Air Force Strategic Command. Currently, he is serving as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Operations).

The Air Marshal has also served in the UAE Air Force as fighter instructor pilot. He is a graduate of PAF Air War College, Faisal and the National Defence University, Islamabad. In recognition of his services, he has been decorated with Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (Military), Sitara-i-Basalat, Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Military) and Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military). He is married and has three children.

http://www.paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?212326

Comments from LUBP old website:

23 COMMENTS:

Muhammad Anees said…
Air Marshal Shahid Latif whole Pakistani nation is with you. This is completely injustice. Come ahead and we come for you.

19 MARCH 2009 11:53
QaziRasheed said…
Injustice begets injustice. Mr. Shahid Latif you look around, if you did wrong to anyone so you have been wronged. The affairs of this world move in a cycle. That is called devine retribution. Dosn’t matter whether anyone is big or small. At least one glaring act of your injustice I do know. Will you like to look back! Please?

19 MARCH 2009 17:43
Shaheryar Ali said…
State should fear the times when appointments of Army chiefs and Chief Justices become point of speculation of commercial journalists.
If sitting Air force officer shares his complains with journalists , khuda hafiz of this state. where is the discipline?

19 MARCH 2009 19:11
Khokhar said…
I think there must be some other angle to the story apart from the one presented by Mr. Javed Chaudhary…Does Mr. Chaudhary has a proof that an intervention was made by the Ambassador of some powerful country? Does Mr. Chaudhary think that the Ambassador of that country had received a kick-back in the contract of JF-17s? As far as the JF-17s are concerned, there must be some othere causes which halted the manufecturing of planes in Pakistan. As far as Mr. Shahid Latif is concerned, the best way to show his concern is by offering a resignation…Otherwise he should keep his mouth shut while enjoying perks and priviliges from PAF. Or he should raise his concerns in front of the government authorities instead of involving in blame-game!!

19 MARCH 2009 21:56
Lt. General Ayub Khan said…
Some people are getting upset for no reason.

Just remember that AM of PAF is one of the most prestigious positions in the country. Obviously a LOT of things are taken into account when appointing someone.

Our past 3 AMs have created MILESTONES in PAF –from UAV projects, innovations in weapons complex and rank system (based on TuAF structure), and of course the JF17 project.

Please show more faith and trust and accept whatever decisions are made. Forget this habit of conspiracies and politicizing things. It is unhealthy and waste of time.

The most important thing is that PAF remains strong, professional and alert to today’s realities.

20 MARCH 2009 09:38
Anonymous said…
AOA all,
if ur saying that AOC Centre,DCAS O or AOC Kamra are the likely places to eleviate the officer to the level of air chief then why didnt Air Marshal Khalid made it.

ive heard that he was previously

Chairman PAC
DCAS (O)
DCAS Support & log
AOC Centre
IG Air Force

and along with that he commanded PAF base sargodha and all the key posisitons of sargodha including command of F16 squadron,wing and even OC of CCS and is a graduate of Royal College of Defence studies UK.

does it ring any bells.

so i think if AM Khalid is not making a fuss then Am Shahid shudnt make a fuss either n let the ACM Rao do the job.im sure he is capable enough

22 MARCH 2009 07:42
Abdul said…
@Anon, your point is very valid. Also, as Sherry noted, this is below the level of AM Shahid Lateef to approach Javed Chaudhry to express his grievances.

22 MARCH 2009 08:39
Aslam said…
guys I agree with Anonymous and also Abdul but i think AM Shahid is justified.it took him more than 30 years to get to this level n then an incompetent person takes over.mind u..initialy ACM Rao’s name wasnt even sent to the president.then after a little while his name was added to the list.im starting to lose hope in this country.out of four contenders,our honest president retired the two worthy airmarshals Shahid & Khalid and the remainig two who didnt have a chance have made Air Chief and Vice Chief.the selected chief of air staff is good officer but his achievements are no where close to the top brass.once again injustice has prevailed.the meaning of Pakistan is the “land of the pure” but when it is ruled by Zardari or Musharaf then u can expect such decisions

22 MARCH 2009 11:29
Anonymous said…
The achievements and capabilities of AM Shahid Latif was surely superior to the newly appointed air chief.Now due to retirement of the all the senior officers Pakistan has suffered greatly.In my opinion President has got the opportunity to appoint 4 new AM’s as 3 have retired and one made ACM so 4 AM of President’s choice will be appointed.As long as the Pakistan is being ruled by incapable persons nobody can expect justice and fair play.

22 MARCH 2009 15:12
Raazi said…
Anonymous: As long as Pakistan was being ruled by the most capable person General Zia-ul-Batil, he kept Air Marshall Anwar Shamim as CAS, the most corrupt CAS PAF ever had.

22 MARCH 2009 17:26
Javed said…
@ Anonymous: not 3 but 2 Air Marshals have retired(Air Marshal Khalid & Air Marshal Shahid Lateef).the 3rd Air Marshal Hifazat has been made Vice Chief and the 4th Air Marshal Rao has been made the Air Chief.such a pity.

23 MARCH 2009 12:45
Ikram said…
May God Bless the retired Air Marshals for their entiring honest efforts and dedication.at the same time i wish the new air chief all the best because after all he is our chief.God speed

23 MARCH 2009 12:50
Khan said…
guys i have got news for you.the current AOC Centre AVM Atiq has been moved out to the civil aviation where he would be working under a retired Air Commodore.i have also heard that AVM Atiq would probably retire over there.so if that happens,then it means the final nail in the coffin.this Air Chief is definately a political apointee and is moving all the capable people out.i hope i am wrong.God Help Pakistan

24 MARCH 2009 14:33
Anonymous said…
I read all the comments about current Air Marshals and the story about the capabilities of serving air force commanders. Honestly, I felt ashamed, if it is really true that some of these officers have been talking to the press and airing their grievances!

The PAF is a professional fighting force. The whole country is proud of them, their achievements in the past, and expects them to behave in a professional manner. When some of them start talking to the press it only shows how some bad choices might have been made in the selection process; officers don’t cry in front of the press!

Simply put, good pilots may not be good commanders, sword-of-honor winners may not make the best air marshals, and courses abroad don’t mean a person is the best qualified amongst his peers.

In the case of the present CAS selection, may I also add that the process is not simply a choice of the President. There are numerous channels through which screening happens and different agencies get involved before a decision is made. In the end, the president does have a say and usually would take a decision in the best interest of the country. I am thus confident that the new chief, who has served as DCAS (O) is definitely a capable man who will lead the PAF well. If nothing else, we should respect the fact that he has served in the PAF for 35 years and definitely holds all the honors that any Air Marshal of his seniority would be expected to have.

27 MARCH 2009 00:42
Munir said…
@Anonymous ….the screening was done by President Asif Ali Zardari.i think that says it all.i rest my case.

and secondly what did ACM Rao did apart from DCAS O.any highlights….the fact of the matter is that there is nothing extraordinary that he has done.his case is very weak.

the guy who did nothing…is supposed to be the best and the guy who did everything good is useless.have some shame and character.and For God’s Sake stop supporting puppets.

27 MARCH 2009 14:28
Waqar said…
what is done is done.this is Pakistan.these things have happened in the past and they shall continue to happen.this a result of our own deeds.lets start from improving our ownself.and kindly stop commenting here.it only gives bad name to our own PAF.

PLEASE STOP COMMENTING.LETS MAKE AN END TO THIS DEBATE.DONT EVEN APPRECIATE MY MESSAGE.JUST STOP COMMENTING.THIS SHOULD BE THE LAST MESSAGE HERE.

27 MARCH 2009 14:47
Anonymous said…
Munir, the decision was made by the President of Pakistan who was elected to office by the people of Pakistan in a democratic process. If you don’t like him, get rid of him, if you can. There is a democratic process for that! If you can’t do anything about that, then remember this is the choice of Pakistani and thus learn to live with him and his decisions!

28 MARCH 2009 18:43
Anonymous said…
Regarding ACM Rao; he rose to the rank of Air Marshal before he was selected to be the Air Chief. Isn’t that an achievement?

Please remember, at the top of the hierarchy they are all the same in terms of capability. They are all experienced and well educated/trained. FYI only the best make it to the rank of air commodore and above.

I must say we should not support armed forces personnel who speak to the press about matters pertaining to official decisions. This is not professional. In fact it is highly deplorable behavior coming from a commissioned officer.

28 MARCH 2009 18:53
Anonymous said…
Now days Pakistan has become of land of explosion, I am agree that PAF is disciplined force and selection is done on “merit”, but I am unable to understand that why AM Shahid Latif was promoted to the rank of the VCAS, if he has not the capabilities it lead the PAF. Either the earlier selection as VCAS was wrong or this recent decision is wrong.

By virtue of this one decision, air force has to loose the services of three top notch officers before time. In Air force humane resources are much valuable then the rest of the things…

This is common sense that usually umber two on hierarchy gets the chance to become the number one. All over the world vice presidents become the president.

Why such important post becomes the discretionary tools in the hands of the “illiterate” leaders?

Javeed Cohdhary rightly said that in justice is not only linked with the promotion, but also tells a hint on 100% commission story.

We have to stop the Chief justice story and have to upgrade our system of selection

5 APRIL 2009 12:10
Anonymous said…
i totally agree with Mr Rasheed. Shahid Latif should accept this as a good sports man.did anyone mentioned about his wrongdoings when he was in UAE,or base commander.plz look back this world is “DIVINE RETRIBUTION” bye and keep shut please. Rao is the best available.and u were shit scared of tanvir Mr Yes Man

14 APRIL 2009 10:19
Anonymous said…
i will just say that now PAF is no more of professionals as the previous Chief ha s ruined all the branches for his own personal motives.he has screwed GDP branch just to benefit his own sons and 38 wing.He has fucked up in style with AD branch and with engineers i will not speak. this bastard was accompanied by his PSOs including shahid latif, disgraceful ganja(who has accepted to work under his junior), hasan and waseem-ud-din.History is not going to spare all of them.if u speak outside people have volumes of misappropriations against all of them.
Hats off to u TANVEER AND COMPANY FOR FUCKING SUCH A PRESTIGIOUS AND WELL REPUTED ORGANISATION

21 APRIL 2009 06:40
Anonymous said…
Wow, that was harsh! Someone seems to know a lot about the PAF but doesn’t have the guts to state his/her name. I wonder if this is anything but dirt slinging; not a thing an honorable person would do!

25 APRIL 2009 17:20
Anonymous said…
In civilised countries the next chief is nominated months ahead of time. In all fairness it should be the vice chief who should take over, and the vice chief should be appointed after having gone through the mill of higher appiontments. This way there will be no heart burns , no speculations and no leg-pulling. A word about PAF rank insignias: I dont like it. Revert to braids around sleeves on winter uniform and on shoulders for the summer. that looked unique and super.”Stupid” RAF has not changed theirs for last almost 90 years.

26 APRIL 2009 17:52

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