The Indian air force recently awarded a gallantry award, the Vir Chakra–equivalent to a Pakistani Sitara Jurrat – to Group Captain Abhinandan for downing a Pakistani F-16. This ridiculous claim has withstood the US Air Force’s declaration that the entire fleet of Pakistani F-16’s was intact. The Pakistan Air Force on the other hand has real heroes to celebrate, and has no need for fictionalized tales of bravado in air combat. In the iconic film, “Top Gun,” the commanding officer of the elite navy pilots eponymous school, says to them: “You are America’s best, make us proud!” The Pakistan Airforce has been doing this for over seven decades. Pakistan Air Force caught the world’s attention for the first time in 1958, in peacetime, when it made an unbroken world record of a 16-aircraft diamond formation of F-86 Sabres in Karachi, during an air show. It was a mere 17-year-old air force in 1965, when it established air superiority on the second day of a 17-day war. The PAF showed extraordinary bravado and exceptional air combat skills. Air Commodore MM Alam, then a Squadron Leader, emerged as a legendary pilot of the jet age, when he shot down five Indian aircrafts in aerial combat in under one minute-a record that is unbeaten todate. The stellar war-time conduct of the PAF led the Arab militaries to seek the PAF’s assistance in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967. Although the war was fought between Israel and an alliance of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, it was the heroic PAF pilot Flt. Lt. Saiful Azam, who holds a world record as the only air force pilot who downed three Isreali aircrafts in aerial combat. The PAF is truly peerless as it operates on a moral high ground displaying noble conduct. In 1971, the PAF presence in East Pakistan was too small to engage in combat, yet it conducted itself with courage, dignity and ingenuity. The legendary American pilot Chuck Yeager tweeted on November 17, 2017 and I quote: “Q: Of all the pilots you’ve flown with, which do you respect the most and why?A: In 1971-73, I flew with the Pakistan Air Force in the war with India. They were the best in the world.” In the 1980’s the PAF effectively thwarted the Soviet threat. The Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra had successfully negotiated with the Americans and procured the latest military hardware for Pakistan in 1965. This included the legendary F-104 starfighter for the Pakistan Airforce–which greatly intimidated the Indian Air Force. In later years the F-16 became our formidable weapon. Pakistan’s military collaboration with the US was one key advantage it held over India. The Arab air forces that were decimated by the Isreali Air Force, were also easily destroyed due to the superior American weaponry and training of the Isreali Air Force. However, Pakistan’s reliance on military hardware from the US–became a double edged sword–and it backfired when the Pressler Amendment sanctions were invoked in 1990, against our nuclear weapon program. Pakistan had purchased F-16s from the US and they were expected to arrive soon but the delivery was halted. The PAF then tried procuring the latest military aircrafts from other European countries but could not do so due to pressure from the US. This is when the PAF again rose to the occasion and it took up the challenge of designing and manufacturing a combat aircraft with some assistance from China and Sweden. The result was JF-17 Thunder, an aircraft that proved its lethal strike capability when it shot down the SU 30 MKI aircraft flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan of the Indian air force on 27 February, 2019. The PAF also initiated a programme to expand and upgrade its Mirage fleet, to give it enhanced ground-attack capabilities and an aerial refueling capability. The world then saw another side of the PAF, where not only did it possess pilots with exceptional flying skills and exemplary bravado, but its technological capabilities were also exceptional. The PAF truly made us proud when it sold the JF17 Thunder to Nigeria this year. Talks are underway with other countries for possible sales. The PAF has no instances of defection on grounds of the call of the human conscience like the Isreali Air Force; no instances of lying to claim war trophies like the Indian Air Force; and last but not the least, no instances any wikileaks footage of shooting down civilians for fun as in the case of the US Air Force in Iraq. The PAF is truly peerless as it operates on a moral high ground displaying noble conduct, throughout its history. As the daughter of a PAF officer I have seen our airforce up close and personal. The officers don’t consider the service as merely a job, as the airforce is like a family. Even after decades of retirement, the fondness and the association among the officers remains strong. One can witness how the PAF looks out for former comrades and fallen comrades, when one visits a PAF Hospital where a notice board gives due preference to the families of shaheeds. Earlier this year, I was stuck in Skardu by myself, down with Pneumonia, close to hypothermia and physically unable to take myself home. Knowing that the PAF operates an airbase in Skardu, I requested the Air Officer Commanding, Southern Air Command, Air Marshal Muhammad Mughees Afzal to help me return home to Karachi. Displaying camaraderie with a long deceased officer by looking out for his daughter, Air Marshal Muhammad Mughees Afzal very graciously arranged for an airlift from Skardu to Karachi. I was escorted to Karachi in comfort, leaving me forever indebted to him and the PAF. My father-a graduate of Aligarh University- belonged to the pioneer generation of PAF officers who established a nascent airforce and fought the wars of 1965 and 1971. They were trained by the British Air Force at its prime, when the sun never set on the British empire. However, even today, one can see the same standards of professionalism, dignity and camaraderie in the PAF. The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com.