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'Pak was prepared to counter any strikes by India'

world Updated: Mar 28, 2009 21:21 IST

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Pakistan's new air force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman today said he had devised an "air strategy plan" to launch "offensive operations" to counter any possible surgical strikes by India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Suleman, who took over as air chief last week, said he had drawn up the "air strategy plan" when the threat of possible surgical strikes was "about to cross the threshold".

In the space of hours, the Pakistan Air Force was on red alert and capable of launching offensive operations, he said.

A statement issued by PAF quoted Suleman as saying, "When the surgical strikes' threat was about to cross the threshold, I devised an air strategy plan and unfolded it to the then (PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed) and within four-five hours, the whole PAF was on red alert status and present everywhere to defend and launch offensive operations."

Addressing personnel at an airbase at Sargodha in Punjab province, Suleman said the PAF "played a vital role in averting an imminent war" in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks.

The new air force chief was on an inaugural visit to the airbase in Sargodha after assuming his post.

Suleman will make a series of visits to various airbases to unfold his vision for preparing the PAF to meet the challenges of air operations in the 21st century.

Suleman told pilots to maintain the highest level of standards for various aspects of air operations. He said the top-most priority of his vision for the force "will remain operational preparedness of the PAF".

Today, the PAF is passing through a transit phase. We will be handling and operating old and new weapon systems of various capabilities (and) you are required to maintain these assets for their optimum performance," he said.

The programme for induction of new systems is on track and there will be focus on modern training techniques and flight safety.

Meanwhile, Air Marshal Hifazat Ullah Khan was today appointed vice chief of the PAF. Commissioned as a pilot in October 1974, he has served in various squadrons. Khan has also served as air attache in Saudi Arabia.