Born in 1954, Rao Qamar Suleman come from a humble Rajput family of Okara district of province Punjab, Pakistan. He started his academic career from 17th entry in PAF School Sargodha. Suleman got commission in Pakistan Air Force Academy Risalpur after successful completion of his studies from PAF college Sargodha. In 1972, he was commissioned in Air Force as general duty pilot (fighter pilot). Suleman is an accomplished fighter pilot with rich experience in fighter aircraft. He has commanded an Elite Fighter Squadron, Wing and Base that includes No. 15 Squadron, No. 31 Wing, PAF Base Peshawar and Southern Air Command.
Role in War Against Terrorism
Suleman is the architect of counter terrorist policy. Under his command, PAF efficaciously accomplished its objectives of abolishing the Taliban infrastructure, and killing the terrorists in the air operations. He enabled PAF to engage the terrorists effectively through new operational training and exercises. He commanded successful aerial operations in Swat and FATA against Terrorists.
He is also attributed for evolving close professional ties between PAF and the Pakistani Army first time in the history of Pakistani Armed Forces. This resulted in handy coordination between the services leading to successful joint operations against terrorists and empowered the military forces to engage and destroy the terrorists in distant areas that were inaccessible.
Contributions as Chief of Pakistan Air Force
As the Air Chief, he vowed to follow merit, and had stressed upon integrity and honesty; professional excellence and team work. As a result, PAF had been able to accomplish the objectives of preserving the Operational Preparedness with safety, which is the primary role and task of the Pakistan Air Force. Modernization and transformation of PAF into a 21st Century Air Force continued to be his key priority. In his regime, various state of the art equipment and weapon systems were inaugurated and operationalized in PAF. The fighter fleet had been upgraded with the fourth-generation fighter aircraft and force multipliers. PAF had established two squadrons of its very own indigenously produced JF-17 Thunder Aircraft. This aircraft also saw unprecedented accomplishment in numerous exercises and international Air Shows across the globe.
Other major inductions in Pakistan Air Force include Saab – 2000 AEW&C, ZDK-03 AWACS, IL-76 air-to-air refuellers and Spada-2000 Lomad systems. Alongside induction of sophisticated equipment, its operationalization and availability 4 of 7 for operations was achieved in a very proficient manner during his tenure as Air Chief. At the time of induction and operationalizing of new equipment, PAF was constrained to maintain and operate its legacy systems. Handling technologies four decades apart was the real test for the operational and technical experts of the PAF. Despite limitations, PAF accomplished both the tasks, the technical and operational competences of PAF have been reinforced to effectively meet all the challenges.
Another important achievement, while PAF was inducting and operationalizing new hardware, participating in national and international exercises, revamping its training system, operating legacy systems and undertaking all operational responsibilities as demanded by the environment, PAF also accomplished maximum flying in PAF’s history. During his tenure for two consecutive years, PAF crossed the 90,000 hrs mark. The PAF accomplished these feats while attaining the best ever flight safety record in his three years of tenure and making 2010 an accident free year for the first time in the history of PAF and that too with maximum flying during the year.
Suleman, while revamping the training system to change it from skill-based to knowledge-based and bring it in line with the modern systems, he initiated the process of longevity in the service for officers in different ranks. This was intended at retaining the experience of highly trained manpower for longer duration to amass maximum advantage. In his tenure, the term of service had been fixed for all ranks without any necessity for yearly extensions by the Chief of Air Staff.
The Air Chief, in recognition of his meritorious and exceptionally dedicated services, he received the following medals:
Suleman is also the recipient of ‘King Abdul Aziz Medal Class I’ by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and ‘The Legion of Merit of Turkish Armed Forces’ by Republic of Turkey. He has also received ‘The Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander)’ by United States Of America, ‘Medal of Merit Santos-Dumont’ by Federative Republic of Brazil and ‘Legion of Honor’ by French Republic.
He has the honor of being most decorated service chief of Pakistan Armed Forces in the history.
Blue Blooded Family
Qamar’s brother Babar Suleman and nephew Haris Suleman laid their lives in quest of raising funds for the education of underprivileged children in Pakistan, the single engine plane of father and son duo (Babar Suleman and Haris Suleman) crashed at American Smoa Pago Pago during the last lap of their journey, the duo attempted to circumnavigate the world in single engine plane in order to raise funds. In recognition of their services to mankind the government of Pakistan awarded the SItara -i- Imtiaz to both Babar Suleman and Haris Suleman (RIP)
Starting the career from scratch and rising to the coveted rank of Air Chief Marshal, Chief of Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force without any references or vouches is undoubtedly a marvelous achievement. It is a great source of inspiration for the youth, particularly the Pakistani youngsters, boys and girls.