ISLAMABAD - without naming political leadership, the outgoing PAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has emphasised the need for unambiguous instructions given to the armed forces in order to responding to challenges to the national security.”Where there were successes, PAF also faces certain challenges as well.

However, we must analyse our environment and decide about our policies and give clear unambiguous instructions to the armed forces”, the outgoing PAF Chief said in his address to the command handing over talking over ceremony here at PAF headquarters on Monday.

The outgoing Air Chief said that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been equipped with latest weapon systems, which has enhanced its operational capabilities to adequately meet all the challenges.

Rao Qamar Suleman said he was retiring from the PAF with a deep sense of fulfilment, as the PAF was in the highest state of operational readiness.

He said all the latest weapon systems have been inducted and operationalised ; the fighter fleet has been upgraded with the fourth generation fighter aircraft and force multipliers. 

He pointed out that the PAF has established two squadrons of its very own indigenously produced JF-17 Thunder Aircraft whose production started in the last three years. 

This aircraft also saw unprecedented success in various exercises and international Air Shows the world over. 

Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman said other major inductions included Saab-2000 AEW&C, ZDK-03 AWACS, IL-76 air-to-air refuellers and Spada-2000 Lomad systems. Alongside induction of sophisticated equipment, its operationalisation and availability for operations was attained in a very professional manner within these 3 years. 

He said handling technologies four decades apart was the real test for the operational and technical experts of the PAF.  They all can be proud of the fact that, despite limitations, PAF as a team with its talented human resource accomplished both the tasks in the most professional manner. 

“Today we can claim with confidence that the technical and operational capabilities of PAF have been strengthened to adequately meet all the challenges,” he declared. 

He said another important achievement, while they were inducting and operationalising new hardware, participating in national and international exercises, revamping training system, operating the legacy systems and undertaking all operational tasks as necessitated by the environment, the PAF also accomplished maximum flying in its history.

For two consecutive years, PAF crossed the 90,000 hrs mark and they could be proud of the fact that these feats were accomplished while achieving the best ever flight safety record in these three years and making 2010 an accident free year first time in our history and that too with maximum flying during the year.

The outgoing Air Chief said during the last three years, there have been numerous new initiatives, introduction of new policies and systems, very large number of successful operational and non-operational accomplishments and meaningful contributions towards nation building as well as provision of support during natural calamities. All this could not have been possible without Allah Almighty’s blessings and devotion, dedication and hard work by his excellent team, which included all the PSOs, ACsAS, field commanders and all airmen of the PAF.

He thanked all members of his team for their all out support and for helping him achieve all he could do with outstanding standards of professionalism and safety.

Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman reminded that where there were successes, PAF also faces certain challenges as well. 

But as professionals they need to understand that PAF operates in very difficult environment, and has to work within the defined policy guidelines and constraints.

They must analyse environment and decide about their policies and give clear unambiguous instructions to the armed forces.

He congratulated Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt on his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff.

He said Air Chief Marshal Tahir is an outstanding professional, accomplished airman and good human being.

He said it was a matter of satisfaction for him that he was handing over the command of PAF to a thoroughbred professional. He has a poised personality, and the rare ability to judge and analyse matters with deep insight, Rao observed.

He expressed the confidence that under the able leadership of the new commander, the force as a team will work with the same dedication and find new ways to make PAF ‘Second to None’ as envisioned by the great Quaid. 

He hoped under the leadership of new commander, Pakistan Air Force would attain new heights of glory.

Later, Air Chief Marshal, Rao Qamar Suleman formally handed over the PAF’s Sword of Command to Air Marshal, Tahir Rafique Butt.

Both the outgoing and incoming air chiefs were presented separate guards of honour to formally mark the change of command. Born in 1955, Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt received his early education at PAF Public School, Sargodha. Subsequently, he joined Pakistan Air Force 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 staff jobs at Air Headquarters, the Air Marshal has served as Deputy Director Plans, Director Flight Safety, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (P-O) in Personnel Branch and Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Training). 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).

Before taking over as air chief, he was serving as Vice Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force.

Tahir Rafique Butt is a graduate of Staff College, Turkey and National Defence University, Islamabad from where he did his M.Sc 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.