ISLAMABAD - On the advice of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, President Asif Ali Zardari has appointed Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt as the new Chief of the Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force.

According to the presidential spokesman, Tahir Butt will assume charge as the new Air Chief on March 19th.

Prime Minister Gilani had advised President Zardari to appoint Butt as he was the most senior Air Marshal. Butt will succeed Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman.

Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt born in 1955 received his early education at PAF Public School, Sargodha.  He joined PAF and graduated from PAF Academy, Risalpur in March 1977. After doing his fighter and operational conversion courses, he has flown various types of fighters and training aircraft on PAF Inventory.

He is a qualified flying instructor and also a combat commander on fighters.

He has commanded an elite fighter squadron, a Fighter Flying Wing and two PAF Bases.

In senior staff assignments, the Air Marshal has the distinction of having served as Director General National Accountability Bureau (KPK), Commandant National Security College, NDU, Air Officer Commanding Southern Air Command and Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Personnel). Currently, he is serving as Vice Chief of the Air Staff.

He is a graduate of Staff College, Turkey and National Defence University, Islamabad from where he did his MSc in Defence and Strategic Studies.

He is married and blessed with three children.

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.

Monitoring Desk adds: Outgoing PAF Chief Rao Qamar Suleman is likely to be appointed as Managing Director of PIA, reported a private TV channel.