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The PAF in the Afghan War

An Overview

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, after having exercised restraint for nearly a century, Pakistan was sandwiched between two hostile states. The two-front situation, with India in the east and the Russian forces in the west, was a grave challenge to Pakistan's security. The coordinated moves by the Soviet-Indian axis under the Indo-Soviet treaty of 1971 continued to jeopardize Pakistan's security. The threat gained significance with largescale aggressive deployment of the Indian Army and Air Force. The Soviet fleet, along with the Indian Navy, regularly held power projection exercises off the coast of Karachi. There was a quantum jump in the violations of the Pakistan airspace by Russo-Afghan aircraft. The Soviets started bombing the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, killing a large number of civilians. At times, Pakistani villages were also targeted. In June 1980, the Soviet Union became a direct neighbour of Pakistan when the Afghan puppet ruler Babrak Karmal ceded the Wakhan strip.

Successful Encounters

Some of the successful encounters during the Afghan war need to be recounted in some detail because these constitute the PAF's only live combat experience since the 1971 war, to date. The war also provided an opportunity to all the combat elements such as the pilots, the air defence controllers, and the maintenance crew to test their endurance, assets, and skills.

Near Engagements/Missed Opportunities



1. The Story of the Pakistan Air Force 1988-1998
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