Pakistan Air Force airmen radicalized, sabotaging F-16s

A WikiLeaks cable says Pakistan’s airmen were being radicalised and were sabotaging Pakistani F-16s deployed for security operations along the Afghan border.

The cable, sent in March 2006 from the US embassy to Washington, quotes Pakistan’s then Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Operations, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Khalid Chaudhry, as saying, “You can’t imagine what a hard time we have trying to get to trim their beards.” The cable notes that, “This last comment refers to the tradition of conservative Muslims to grow full beards as a sign of piety.”

It also claimed “to receive reports monthly of acts of petty sabotage, which he interpreted as an effort by Islamists amongst the enlisted ranks to prevent PAF aircraft from being deployed in support of security operations in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border.”

Chaudhry was briefing visiting US officials at the Pakistan Air Force Headquarters and impressing upon them the need to ensure “the F-16 deal has enough sweeteners to appeal to the public – a complete squadron of new F-16s, with JDAM and night-vision capability – but not to offer the PAF things that it cannot afford.”

Pakistan was in talks with the US to buy F-16 fighter aircraft and the US had voiced security concerns.


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