Government settles on new PAF Chief

Published: February 29, 2012
GIlani advises President Asif Ali Zardari over new Air Chief Marshal. PHOTO: AIJAZ SHEIKH/ EXPRESS

GIlani advises President Asif Ali Zardari over new Air Chief Marshal. PHOTO: AIJAZ SHEIKH/ EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday decided to appoint Air Marshal Tahir Raffiq Butt to succeed out-going Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman to head the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman is due to retire on March 18, after completing his three year term.

“Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has advised President of Pakistan to appoint Air Marshal Tahir Raffiq Butt, being the senior most, as the new of chief of air staff of Pakistan Air Force,” said an official announcement.

Gilani had earlier in the day held a meeting with Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. An official statement had said that the two had discussed the security situation along with professional matters pertaining to the country’s defence.

The Prime Minister then took the short trip from Prime Minister House to the Aiwan-e-Sadr where he briefed President Asif Ali Zardari on matters pertaining to current situation, by-elections, senate elections as per a press release, and as per sources, on the appointment of a new air chief.

Earlier reports indicated that five air marshals were in the race to become the next PAF chief.

However, the government has upheld the principle of seniority, like it did for the appointment of Naval Chief last year.

Under the constitution, the Prime Minister has the prerogative to appoint services chiefs. In the past, there were instances when the sitting prime ministers overlooked the principle of seniority in appointing services chiefs.

Air Chief Marshal Suleman has overseen a successful term which involved key inductions into the PAF. This includes the serial production and induction of the JF-17 fighter aircraft that Pakistan co-developed with China. This period also saw the arrival of the first of new block 52 F-16 D air crafts and the upgradation of the existing F-16 block 15, A and B fighters.

Additionally, the period saw Pakistan expand its global role, selling its indigenous aircraft, the K-8 to Bolivia to help counter-narcotics, and smuggling operations.

However, Suleman will be most remembered for famously remarking that, contrary to government claims, the PAF had the capability to shoot down US operated Predator drones, which seem to strike in Pakistan with complete impunity.

His charges also came under scrutiny after US forces managed to infiltrate Pakistani airspace, fly to Abbottabad, conduct a covert operation, and fly out without confrontation. Their capability was most recently questioned when NATO aircraft attacked the Pakistani security check post on Salala in November 2011.

Government selects senior most officer as PAF Chief successor

Butt is the senior most officer after current chief. The Government decided on the successor based on seniority.

Air Marshal Butt is currently the senior most officer of PAF. He joined the force on March 6 1977 as a GD pilot.

Butt assumed the office of Vice Chief of the Air Staff on October 5, 2010. In recognition of his meritorious and exceptionally dedicated services, he has been decorated with the awards of Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military), Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Military) and Tamgha-i-Basalat.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (14)

  • K. Salim Jahangir
    Feb 29, 2012 - 12:41AM

    Good luck & congratulations!!! Air Marshal Butt. Please watch your steps & do not spend late nights at the hill like your predecessor.


  • Acorn Guts
    Feb 29, 2012 - 1:11AM

    The Government decided on the successor based on seniority.

    I am sure Air Marshall Butt is also a highly competent, patriotic and professional soldier. Pretty much sums up all that is wrong with our leadership. Won’t say more.

    Congrats and Godspeed Air Marshall Butt.


  • Nadir
    Feb 29, 2012 - 1:21AM

    Please also add that the outgoing Air Chief has also overseen the launch of PACPAD tablet computers, and on his watch, radards on the Western border were not working.


  • Usman
    Feb 29, 2012 - 2:38AM

    The way ET writes these reports sometimes makes me feel like I’m reading the NYT. For example no one questioned our airforce’s capability no matter how many OBL raids or Salala’s happen. Recommend

  • Saad
    Feb 29, 2012 - 4:29AM

    good decision…… follow the seniority….. no favoritism….


  • Ali. Mir
    Feb 29, 2012 - 4:47AM

    Why is it such a big thing.The appointment should be made on merit by the PM/President according to the constitution.


  • Imran
    Feb 29, 2012 - 5:57AM

    Good precedence for the future. Over-ambitious generals have been the main problem throughout our history.


  • Feb 29, 2012 - 7:51AM

    please change Kayani and Pasha too, we dont want pro American Generals


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Feb 29, 2012 - 8:54AM

    I hope that the new PAF Chief will be able to stop the drone attacks by shooting down couple of drones in Pakistan’s Airspace, which the outgoing were unable to do it?


  • Travian
    Feb 29, 2012 - 9:13AM

    Wow, fresh cannon fodder.


  • Dave Burnstorm
    Feb 29, 2012 - 9:19AM


    We didnt know that our so called ally will stab us in the back and humiliate us with a well organised drama. the helicopters were shot down as well but no one will ever acknoledge anything.


  • Feb 29, 2012 - 9:31AM

    Good luck to Air Marshal Qamar Suleman, to enjoy his retirement – unlike others they (PAF) dont bother for extension – welcome new Air Chief for 3 years.


  • khurram shahzad
    Feb 29, 2012 - 10:23AM

    It is a very good decision. And it is the best for PAF. I think we will see PAF prosper in AM Tahir Rafiq Butt’s tenure. Congratulations to ALL.


    Mar 19, 2012 - 5:52PM


More in Pakistan