32° 33' 47"N 71° 34' 14"E
PAF Mianwali is located in the Central Pakistan approximately 190 Southwest of Islamabad, South of the town of Mianwali. PAF Mianwali is served by a 10,000 foot long runway. There is a parrallel taxi way that could serve as an alternate runway in emergencies.
During the 1965 war it was realized that Sargodha needed an alternate recovery airfield deeper inside Pakistani territory, and Mianwali was selected as the site for this new air base, partly because a WW II airstrip already existed there already. In addition to serving as a deeper airfield looking east, it would act as a front line base against a threat from the west. Initially it was conceived as a satellite airfield only. During the 71 war, Mianwali played a very active role and contributed substantially to the war effort of the PAF. It was activated in October 1971 with Group Captain S M Dutta as its commander.
Detachments of several types of aircraft operated from this' airfield during the war. The Indians found this airfield an attractive target and made regular raids on it for the first three days of war. However, after suffering heavy losses without causing any damage, the IAF discontinued its raids on Mianwali. Mianwali's battle initiation occurred on the second day of the war. As a pair of F-6s was lining up for take off, 2 enemy Hunters pulled up for attack, having sneaked in undetected. The Hunters aimed at the lined up fighters but poor shooting left both F-6s untouched. As the Hunters pulled out of their attack and started exiting east at low level, one of the F-6 pilots Flight Lieutenant Javed Qazi took off in hot pursuit. Making up for lost time in full afterburner, Qazi never took his eyes off his targets and shot one of them down near Sakesar, about 40 miles from his home base. For his cool courage in precarious circumstances, he was awarded the Sitara-e-Juraat. During that war, another 4 Indian aircraft were destroyed and one damaged by the pilots and gunners, of this base. In August 74, Mianwali was upgraded from a satellite to a full-fledged operational base. Wing Commander Sultan Muhammad took over as the first base commander.
It took about three more years to complete the remaining framework of a permanent operational base with facilities such as residential camps, messes, and technical complexes. In November 1975, No.1 Fighter Conversion Unit was shifted from PAF Base Masroor to Mianwali on a permanent basis and equipped with the Chinese FT-5 (Mig-17T) aircraft. The FCU was to undertake fighter conversion training of the PAF Academy graduates. Since then this unit has successfully carried out this task, and has trained over 500 fighter, pilots who form the backbone of the PAF combat force today. The next unit to arrive at Mianwali was No.14 Squadron in November 76. The squadron was assigned the task of carrying out operational conversion of the graduates from No I FCU on their first single-seat fighter. No.14 Squadron continued to perform this task till August 86 when it was selected for reequipment with F-16s and moved out of Mianwali. The F-6 OCU task is now in the hands of No 25 Squadron. Several additional operational units and facilities have been added to the base during the 1980's.
Mianwali city is the economic and commercial hub of the district. There are several educational institutions up to post-graduate level, affiliated with the University of Punjab. The city has an airport built near the old World War II aerodrome. This is presently called PAF Base Mianwali. It is one of the major operational bases of the country. The No.1 Fighter Conversion Unit of the PAF is stationed here. There is also a railway connecting the city with Kundian and Multan to the south and Attock and Rawalpindi to the north. The railways were a part of the now obsolete "North Western Railways" (NWR), which was operational during British colonial rule in the subcontinent. After the partition of India in 1947 it was renamed "Pakistan Western Railways" and was again renamed after December 1971 as Pakistan Railways.
The main highways connecting the city to the other parts of the country include the Sargodha-Lahore road, Multan road, Talagang-Rawalpindi road, and the Kalabagh- Bannu road. The Balkassar interchange connects Mianwali to the M2 motorway. The Thal canal traverses the city and makes the surroundings a picturesque place.
The city is famous for the shrine of Syed Mian Sultan Zakria Gilani whose father Syed Mian Ali founded Mianwali village, in the 16th century. The son is said to have exhibited supernatural powers from an early age and many miraculous deeds are ascribed to him. His name is frequently taken as an oath , and his shrine is not uncommonly the scene of settlement of civil disputes, in which one party has bound himself to abide by any statement made at shrine by the other party. The Mianas of Mianwali are descendants of this holy man.
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