Muhammad Mahmood Alam

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Air Commodore

Muhammad Mahmood Alam
SJ
Muhammad Mahmood Alam in 2010.jpg
Muhammad Mahmood Alam in 2010
Native name
محمد محمود عالم
Nickname(s)MM Alam, Little Dragon
Born(1935-07-06)6 July 1935
Calcutta, British India
Died18 March 2013(2013-03-18) (aged 77)
Karachi, Pakistan
Allegiance Pakistan
Service/branch Pakistan Air Force
Years of service1960–1982
RankUS-O7 insignia.svg Air commodore
UnitNo. 11 Squadron Arrows (1965)[1]
No. 5 Squadron Falcons
Battles/warsIndo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Soviet–Afghan War
AwardsSitara-e-Jurat and Bar[2]

Air Commodore Muhammad Mahmood Alam SJ (Urdu: محمد محمود عالم‎, Bengali: মোহাম্মদ মাহমূদ আলম; 6 July 1935 – 18 March 2013) was[3] a Pakistani fighter pilot who was officially credited by the Pakistanis with having downed nine Indian Air Force aircraft during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, including five Hawker Hunter aircraft on one sortie on 7 September 1965.[4] However, many scholars including retired PAF Air Commodore Sajad S. Haider have debunked Alam's claim regarding the sortie on 7 September 1965.[5] He was a F-86 Sabre flying ace as per Pakistan Air Force records. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat ("The star of courage"), the nation's third highest military award and Bar for his actions during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

Early life[edit]

Alam was born on 6 July 1935 to a well-educated family of Calcutta, British India. Born and raised in Bengal, Alam was a fluent Bengali speaker, however his paternal line was of Urdu-speaking Bihari origin; having emigrated from Patna and settled in the Bengal province of British India for a long time.[6] The family migrated from Calcutta to eastern Bengal which became East Pakistan following the formation of Pakistan in 1947.[6] It was in East Pakistan, where Alam completed his secondary education, graduating from the Government High School in Dhaka in 1951. He joined the then RPAF (now PAF) in 1952, being commissioned on 2 October 1953.[7] Alam's brothers are M. Shahid Alam, an economist and a professor at Northeastern University,[8][9] and M. Sajjad Alam, a particle physicist at SUNY Albany.[10]

His family moved to West Pakistan in around 1971, after the secession of East Pakistan.[6] Being the eldest of his 11 siblings, Alam did not marry as he had to assume the responsibilities of the upbringing of his family. Some of his younger brothers became distinguished in various academic careers.[7]

Service with the Pakistan Air Force[edit]

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Alam scored an "ace in a day" on 7 September 1965, with a total of 5 kills. Over an 11 day period, he claimed 9 kills plus 2 probables. His actions have placed him at the top of the hall of fame list at the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Museum in Karachi, and he is considered a national hero for Pakistan. During the war, he was posted at Sargodha. He was involved in various dogfights while flying his F-86 Sabre fighter, against the Hawker Hunter fighters then flown by the Indian Air Force.

According to the PAF, in a single sortie on 7 September 1965, Alam downed five aircraft in less than a minute, the first four within 30 seconds, establishing a world record.[1][11][12][13][14] Regarding the first four, Alam stated: "Before we had completed more than of about 270 degrees of the turn, at around 12 degrees per second, all four Hunters had been shot down."[12] In 1978, when Alam gave a speech at a Karachi university, he told that during the fight he saw a spiritual force coming from the sky.[15]

An incomplete list of Alam's claimed kills (all were Hawker Hunters) includes:

Alam's claim regarding 7 September 1965 has been contested by the Indian Air Force, which denied losing five Hawker Hunters on the said day,[14] other mainstream sources from both India and Pakistan have expressed strong skepticism about Alam's claim regarding the sortie on 7 September 1965.[16][17][18] Also the fact that no gun camera footage of Alam's kills was ever made public by the Pakistani authorities, casts further doubt on the veracity of Alam's claim.

In 1967, Alam was appointed Squadron Commander of the first squadron of Dassault Mirage III fighters procured by the PAF. He was removed from the staff college over his alleged excessive involvement with the Tableeghi Jamat missionary movement and focusing more on preaching religion instead of carrying out his core responsibilities. In 1982, Alam retired as an Air commodore and took up residence in Karachi.

Death[edit]

The Air Force legend was admitted to Pakistan Naval Station Shifa Hospital in Karachi.[19] Alam died in Karachi on 18 March 2013. He was 77. He was being treated for respiratory problems for 18 months. Alam's funeral prayer was performed at the PAF Base Masroor, where he served some of the significant years of his career. Alam was buried at the Shuhuda (Martyrs) Graveyard, located at PAF Masroor Airbase. Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, Air Chief Marshal (Ret.) Farooq Feroz Khan, Sindh corps commander Lt. Gen Ijaz Chaudhry, Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) Director-General Maj. Gen. Rizwan Akhter, Base Commander PAF Base Masroor Air Commodore Usaid ur Rehman, many war veterans of the 1965 war and Alam's closest colleagues attended the funeral. One of the younger brothers of the deceased, Zubair Alam, was also present.[7]

Memorials[edit]

M. M. Alam Road, a major road in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan is named in honour of the flying ace of Pakistan Air Force, Air Commodore Muhammad Mahmood Alam, running from Main Market to Gulberg. The road runs parallel to famous Main Boulevard thus providing an alternate route and is a commercial hub with many restaurants, fashion boutiques, shopping malls, beauty saloons and décor stores. M.M. Alam Road hosts a variety of flamboyant restaurants in modern Lahore.[20] On 20 March 2014, on account of his first death anniversary, the PAF Airbase Mianwali was renamed after him as PAF Base M.M. Alam.[21][22][23][24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Events – M M Alam's F-86". Pakistan: Pakistan Air Force (official website). Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  2. ^ Singh, Pushpindar; Rikhye, Ravi; Steinemann, Peter (1991). Fiza'ya: psyche of the Pakistan Air Force. Society for Aerospace Studies. pp. 28, 31. ISBN 9788170020387.
  3. ^ Dawn Newspaper, [1];
  4. ^ Werrell, Kenneth P. (2005). Sabres Over MiG Alley: The F-86 and the Battle for Air Superiority in Korea (illustrated ed.). Naval Institute Press. p. 233. ISBN 9781591149330.
  5. ^ Haider, Sajad S. (2009). Flight of the Falcon- Demolishing Myths of Indo Pak Wars 1965-1971. Lahore, Pakistan: Vanguard Books Pvt Ltd. p. 69. ISBN 9789694025261.
  6. ^ a b c "Knowing MM Alam". The Nation. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Iconic war veteran MM Alam passes away, The News International. Retrieved on 19 March 2013.
  8. ^ Institute for Policy Research & Development, Advisory Board; Dr. M. Shahid Alam
  9. ^ Cihan Aksan, State of Nature, On Islam: An Interview with M. Shahid Alam
  10. ^ Department of Physics, M. Sajjad Alam.
  11. ^ Air Cdre M Kaiser Tufail. "Alam's Speed-shooting Classic". Defencejournal.com. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  12. ^ a b Fricker, John. Battle for Pakistan: the air war of 1965. pp. 15–17.
  13. ^ Polmar, Norman; Bell, Dana (2003). One hundred years of world military aircraft. Naval Institute Press. p. 354. ISBN 978-1-59114-686-5. Mohammed Mahmood Alam claimed five victories against Indian Air Force Hawker Hunters, four of them in less than one minute! Alam, who ended the conflict with 11 kills, became history's only jet "ace-in-a-day."
  14. ^ a b O' Nordeen, Lon (1985). Air Warfare in the Missile Age. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 84–87. ISBN 978-0-87474-680-8.
  15. ^ 30 Seconds Over Sargodha – The Making of a Myth: 1965 Indo-Pak Air War, Chapter 5 Archived 7 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Bharat Rakshak
  16. ^ Pakistan's Sabre Ace by Jon Guttman, Aviation History, Sept 1998.
  17. ^ Singh, Pushpindar (1991). Fiza ya, Psyche of the Pakistan Air Force. Himalayan Books. p. 30. ISBN 81-7002-038-7.
  18. ^ Haider, Sajad S. (2009). Flight of the Falcon- Demolishing Myths of Indo Pak Wars 1965-1971. Lahore, Pakistan: Vanguard Books Pvt Ltd. p. 69. ISBN 9789694025261.
  19. ^ M. M. Alam passes away in Karachi, Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved on 19 March 2013.
  20. ^ Haq, Shahram. "Urban planning: MM Alam Road to be heart of new business district – The Express Tribune". Tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  21. ^ "Pakistan not sending troops to Bahrain or Saudi: PM". Dawn. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  22. ^ Desk, Web (27 February 2014). "PAF honours ace pilot MM Alam, renames Mianwali air base after him – The Express Tribune". Tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  23. ^ Imaduddin. "PAF Mianwali Base renamed as M.M. Alam Airbase". Brecorder.com. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  24. ^ "PM Nawaz Sharif names PAF base Mianwali after MM Alam". The News Tribe. Retrieved 21 March 2014.

Further reading[edit]