While speaking to the attendees at the opening ceremony of Air Tech Conference and Techno Show in Islamabad, Air Chief Marshal, Sohail Aman, gave an extended address on a variety of subjects. While the insight into one of the armed forces’ least publically visible branch is invaluable, many of his claims would have left the gathered audience in bewilderment to say the least.

The most prominent is his warning that no more foreign drones would be tolerated in the airspace of Pakistan – even if it belonged to powers such as the United States. That the Pakistan Air Force will shoot down any drone that violates Pakistani airspace is a statement that lacks any practical precedent. Though the courage and valor he shows are laudatory, it is also important to note that except for protests against violation of our sovereignty, Islamabad has taken no concrete measure to stop drone attacks.

The statement made by Air Chief gives the liberty to ask the question that if we can shoot down US drones, what has barred our forces from taking the required course of action so far. Especially since drone attacks violate our territorial sovereignty repeatedly and it is one issue all politicians and military leaders agree on.

Going a step forward, Air Chief also claimed that Pakistan would be able to launch its space programme and send astronauts into space within two years. However, considering the abysmal performance of SPARCO, it is hard to believe what the Air Chief has said. So far our only achievement in the field of space is launching satellites – manned missions are a technological leap too far.

The confidence and ambition is admirable, but the comments made seem to lose touch with ground facts and realities. Furthermore, such statements must not be made lightly, as his claims will be tested in future if any drone attack is carried out on the territory of Pakistan – an event that is highly probable considering the prevalent security situation.