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Pakistan's air chief killed in plane crash
K J M Varma in Islamabad |
February 20, 2003 19:58 IST
Pakistan's Air Force chief Air Marshall Mushaf Ali Mir, his wife and two air vice-marshals were among the 16 people killed when the Fokker military plane they were travelling crashed in the north-west of the country apparently due to bad weather.
The names of the two air vice-marshals killed in the mishap that occurred 70 km from Kohat, where the air chief was going to inspect an air base, have not yet been disclosed.
Rescuers have found the wreckage of the twin turbo aircraft near the small town of Gumbat in Punjab province, about 250 km from Islamabad, the defence ministry said in a statement. The plane had taken off from the Chaklala air base near Islamabad.
The vice-chief of Pakistan Air Force Syed Qaiser Hussain has been appointed the acting chief, and a probe has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the crash.
President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali mourned the death of Mir and other top air force brass.
Mir was an experienced F-16 fighter pilot before he took over the command of Pakistan's Southern Air Command.
Commissioned to the PAF as a fighter pilot in January 1967, he held the high profile job of the director general of Pakistan Air Force Command at Kamara, which manufactured some of the latest versions of the planes in collaboration with China.
Mir served as air attache in Pakistan's embassy in Washington and was on deputation to Saudi Arabia for a few years before being appointed the chief of the air force by Musharraf in 2001.
Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri said the death of Mir was a great loss for Pakistan and its armed forces. "We have lost one of our great sons and a fine soldier," he said. "It is a big loss for Pakistan's air force. He was an outstanding soldier and his services to Pakistan will always be remembered. "It is shocking for me and I am sure for the entire nation."