A former ISI official has challenged in Pakistan's Supreme Court the selection of Air Force chief Rao Qamar Suleman, alleging that it was based on neither merit nor seniority and was in absolute contravention of the "sacred trust" placed on the President's shoulders.
Khalid Khwaja, an ex-Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officer who also served in ISI, claimed in his petition filed in the apex court yesterday that at the time of the appointment of Air Chief Marshal Suleman, there were three senior Air Marshals
who had a better service record.
He also contended that the then PAF vice chief, Air Marshal Shahid Latif, was the senior-most Air Marshal and
"stood tall" due to his overall credentials and professionalism as a fighter pilot.
Latif's credentials were so overwhelming that the entire PAF was looking forward to his appointment as the new chief as he was generally perceived as the best among all aspirants due to his brilliance, experience and disposition, Khwaja claimed.
"The air defence capabilities of Pakistan have always been accorded the first priority particularly in the
background of a very hostile neighbour which also happens to be an atomic power," he said in a reference to India.
"The integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan, therefore, demanded an effective airpower which should be fully capable
of defence and retaliation," the petition said.
"This capability understandably hinges in total on the professionalism and capacity of the country's air force," it
said, adding the induction of "limited numbers" of F-16 aircraft in PAF enhanced its potency and deterrence to a
Khwaja also noted that the concerted efforts of Air Marshal Latif and a few others like him with the "same
missionary spirit and vision" were responsible for the success of the programme to develop the JF-17 Thunder jet by Pakistan and China.