By the time he handed over command of the air force at just 46 years of age, Air Marshal Nur Khans outstanding administrative skills tempered with mental toughness and physical courage had become legendary. He was the second Pakistani pilot to command the air force and he did so with aggressive lan that bore his personal stamp. A very large number of serving and retired officers from the three services paid homage to him on his passing away last week. The PAF felt the presence of the new C-in-C almost immediately after his assuming command in July 1965. The Ayub governments secret campaign to revive international interest in the unresolved Kashmir dispute without Nur Khan being initially told about it was being launched just as the new air chief was taking office. The PAF C-in-C was quick to conclude that, contrary to the governments assumptions, the infiltration in Kashmir would lead to a wider war. He immediately ordered all-out readiness and began to visit all operational bases and units personally to judge their preparations for an imminent war. By the time war began on 1 September, officers and men were both proud and happy to see the air marshal frequently in their midst, although some of them were alarmed when word slipped out that the C-in-C had secretly flown some deep penetration missions over enemy territory. Such initiatives appeared quite naturally to match his personality because Nur Khans habit of taking bold and dramatic actions was already well known. Fighting from a handful of air bases, the PAF performed far better than its small size would have suggested. The pilots, technicians and support personnel were all well trained for war and Nur Khans personal presence and example made all of them perform well beyond the call of duty. Even as a young officer of the British air force in India, Nur Khan was filled with ideas of what shape and size would be best for the new air force of Pakistan that he had opted for. He was determined to play a role in this endeavour and to be heard by his seniors. He remained a consistent advocate of a strong air force and he put his ideas into effect at all successive rungs of his PAF career while ascending these rapidly to the top office at an incredibly young age of 42. Prior to this brilliant performance he had already demonstrated his management acumen as the PIA chief (1959-65), where he had transformed a sick, commercially insolvent company into profitable, efficient and new-age jet airline that attracted worldwide praise and attention. During the post-ceasefire weeks the air marshal continued to exude and permeate confidence that sometimes obscured the serious challenges that his spares-starved and embargoed air force faced. His successful quest for alternative solutions was astute and effective. He channelled his airmens justified bitterness at the ludicrous 'even-handed sanctions by the U.S. on both Pakistan and India (New Delhi was laughing at them because it had no American weapon systems) into positively oriented and rapid induction of Chinese and French airplanes, and those he commanded achieved these goals within months rather than years. Perhaps the air marshal left his greatest legacy when he set the creed and culture of self-reliance in the air force. He personally steered this campaign in the air force and, despite initially disappointing results, within about three years it achieved previously unimaginable gains in the warfighting capabilities of his force. The officers and enlisted personnel of the PAF have permanently adopted, worked and lived by that culture to this day, as reflected in the manufacture within Pakistan of many sophisticated types of weapons and three types of air force aircraft in partnership with two countries from Europe and Asia. Even as a second-tier commander much before becoming air chief, Nur Khan raised many eyebrows when he overruled highly qualified military doctors no one had ever done such a thing before by restoring to flying status a dozen pilots who had been permanently grounded by them for eye infections that were treatable. Nur Khan insisted that the doctors adopt the strategy of remedies rather than speculative caution, because the air force could not afford the loss of expensively trained flyers. All those pilots happily progressed in their careers and brought honour to the PAF by flying many celebrated combat missions in the two wars that followed. In one of his farsighted decisions, the air marshal set up the first computer-based data management and programming directorate in the air force in 1966. Growing rapidly, this expertise nationally placed the PAF in a leading position in the use of computers. Many officers were subsequently educated and trained in the analytical use of computers and these young men were later able to apply their computer programming skills in the PAF's exploitation of new weapon systems belonging to the high-technology groups that had been denied to Pakistan. Throughout his term as the air chief, Air Marshal Nur Khan acted with extraordinary audaciousness, innovation and organisational ability. Those who served under him found him to be a leader as impatient with ceremony as with slow-paced work places. He preferred speed and energy among his subordinates and drove himself with matching urgency in all air force tasks and campaigns. He thought and acted in large, strategic contexts and left the details to the initiatives of his senior commanders and staff officers. Always a fair and considerate commander, Nur Khan was never seen to tolerate narrow-minded, patronised or parochial treatment of any one under his command. Nur Khan always responded promptly to a multitude of post-war crises in the air force and he was quick to deal with and resolve operational, organisational and administrative problems with creative and often unconventional strategies. As the air chief, left behind, in sum, the image of a quintessential leader of imagination and action.