The former Air Chief, late Air Chief Marshal Anwar Shamim, who expired due to prolonged illness on 4th January 2013, would be remembered for many innovations. He revolutionised the PAF by starting a series of annual exercises code-named “Jet Stream”, in 1978, for achieving operational excellence. These exercises were to progressively increase emphasis on joint services liaison at all levels, not only to ensure more effective support to the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy in any future conflict, but also for other two services to understand and appreciate exactly what the PAF could and could not do. The aim of exercise was to determine combat effectiveness of the PAF in general and to test and evaluate various concepts of operations in particular. He consolidated the air force by achieving optimum combat-readiness compatible with maximum flight safety. In his seven years of tenure as the CAS, a total of seven Jet Stream exercises were held.
In 1979, six air defence wings were established to ward off the aerial threat to Pak air space. There was a qualitative improvement in system as six high powered TPS-43 radars were inducted and full automation of all the radars was also undertaken.
Also, in 1979, 32 Mirages equipped with anti-shipping missiles were inducted into the PAF. Besides, 20 FT-5 trainer aircraft were also acquired to improve upon the quality of flying training. Durandal runway penetration bombs were also included in the PAF inventory. Three regional operational commands were also constituted to achieve the aim of defending the motherland against any aggression in a befitting manner.
Anwar Shamim’s most prominent contribution was the induction of F-16s in the PAF. On 14th January 1983, six F-16s landed at Sargodha in the evening. It appeared that not only the PAF but the whole nation got a boost in morale. After the acquisition of F-16s, the PAF involvement in Afghan war became productive. However, the PAF was disallowed to fly in hot pursuit missions.
The former air chief also purchased the Chinese A-5 aircraft to enhance our ground support capability. He was a firm believer of inter-services cooperation and earnestly thought that the three services should act in harmony to overcome all odds.
During Shamim’s tenure, a radar maintenance centre was set up at Kamra, to overhaul the radar systems and automation equipment held in the inventory of PAF. He established the Institute of Air Safety to promote flight safety in the PAF by training selected personnel as flight safety experts who would evolve, enforce and manage operational preparedness and safe flying. The Kamra Air Base was also made operational to counter any aggression from the western front.
As far as welfare of the PAF personnel is concerned, Shamim made tremendous contributions in this respect as well. He was the pioneer of Shaheen Foundation, established for the rehabilitation of retired PAF personnel. The Pakistan Air Force Women Association (PAFWA) was also given priority for the betterment of the wives of PAF low-paid personnel. The Mujahida academies were instituted at Rawalpindi and Peshawar with a unique vision of skill development in female students. The educational scholarships for the needy and talented students were also started for the children of serving, retired and deceased PAF personnel.
The real satisfaction the former air chief had was the professional standing of the Pakistan Air Force. Whether it is the threat to our nuclear assets or to our vital installation or some madcap venture like the hysterical talk of surgical strikes, the PAF has neutralised all such postures with the nonchalance that the situation deserved. The foundations of this capability were laid in his time as the chief. He was ably assisted by his compatriots both in the service as well as sister services and those in the government. They functioned as a team and made the PAF strong. There was a strong feeling of camaraderie in which individuals did not matter. The sole objective was the triumph of the PAF.
Air Chief Marshal Muhammad Anwar Shamim joined the RPAF in 1950 and on completion of his pilot training at the Royal Australian Air Force, he was granted commission in March 1954. His major appointments during the active service included Officer Commanding No 11 Sqn and No 33 Fighter Wing. The former air chief commanded three PAF bases — Sakesar, Korangi Creek and Masroor. At the Air Headquarters, he served as ACAS (Ops).
The late ACM Anwar Shamim also served the Royal Jordanian Air Force as Air Adviser to His Majesty King Hussain Bin Talal (1968-1970) and played a key role in reforming the Jordanian Air Force after the 1967 Arab-Israel war. He actively participated in 1965 and 1971 wars. His leadership during the war missions was aggressive and served as an excellent example for his juniors. On his act of outstanding bravery and heroism, he was awarded Sitara-i-Jurrat (gallantry award) during the 1965 war. On 23 July, 1978 at the age of 47, he became Chief of the Air Staff and retired on 5th March 1985 after serving almost seven years.
Air Chief Marshal Muhammad Anwar Shamim was a well decorated officer. He has also authored a book “Cutting Edge PAF” which illustrates his experiences in the PAF.
Air Chief Marshal Shamim was laid to rest in the H-11 graveyard Islamabad with military honours. After the burial, wreaths were laid at the grave of the deceased on behalf of president and prime minister of Pakistan, chief of the Air Staff, governor Punjab, retired air chiefs and other dignitaries.
Earlier, his funeral prayers were held at the PAF Complex, Air Headquarters, Islamabad. The funeral parade was attended by Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, Admiral Asif Sandela, Chief of Naval Staff, ex-PAF air chiefs, ambassadors/diplomats, war veterans, military officials of brotherly countries, senior civil and military officials of tri-services, senior journalists and people from all walks of life. The family members of late air chief marshal were also present.
Anwar Shamim gave a whole new approach and outlook to the PAF. Because of him and other leaders and airmen, today the PAF is fully capable of hitting any would-be aggressor and giving a telling reply to those who harbour nefarious designs.