Gen. Shariff (second left) along with Gen. Zia (third left) in the passing out parade of the 55th PMA Long Course, 16 April 1977.
|Birth name||Muhammad Shariff|
February 22, 1921|
Rawalpindi, Punjab State, British Indian Empire
|Died||August 6, 1999
|Buried at||Lahore, Punjab Province|
|Years of service||1942–1978|
|Service number||(PA – 426)|
|Unit||3rd Battalion of Punjab Regiment|
|Commands held||Command and Staff College, Quetta
Military Representative to CENTO
GOC 33rd Infantry Division
II Corps, Multan
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
|Battles/wars||Dir Operation of 1961
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Muhammad Shariff (22 February 1921 – 6 August 1999) was a retired four-star general in the Pakistan Army who was the first Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee since its inception in 1976 till his retirement in 1978. General Muhammad Shariff was the first Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Committee of the Pakistan Defense Forces who was succeeded by Admiral Mohammad Shariff in 1978.
Early military career
Shariff received his early education at Lawrence College, Ghora Gai, Murree. Shariff was commissioned in the British Indian Army in 1942 into a battalion of 3rd Punjab Regiment, the Muslim companies of which were amalgamated into 1 Punjab after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. He and Aslam Khan Afridi(Fellow Kashmiri and elder brother of Asghar Khan, Pak AirForce Chief) took part in Indonesia operations as well as Kashmir 1947–48 operations. He was one of few ethnic Kashmiri officers to join Pakistan Army at the independence of Pakistan in 1947 as senior most kashmiri officers Hiralal Atal and Md Karimullah Sheriff joined Indian army. Shariff then moved to 3 Punjab Regiment. His bravery in Kashmir operations was noted and he was rapidly promoted. He became lieutenant colonel in 1952 and was promoted to brigadier-general eight years later in 1959. Then Brigadier-General Shariff took part in the 1960 Dir Operations when the army removed the Nawab of Dir when he was commanding the Shariff Force.
As a major general, a rank to which he was promoted in 1966, Gen Shariff served in the GHQ, commanded an infantry division and then became commandant, Command and Staff College, Quetta in May 1968 continuing till January 1970. In 1970 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and posted as Pakistan's Permanent Representative at CENTO HQ in Ankara, Turkey.
During the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War then Lt Gen Shariff took over the 33rd Infantry Division from Maj Gen Chaudhry Naseer Ahmed who was wounded on 12 December 1971. After the war he handed over command to Maj Gen Iqbal Khan and headed back to Turkey. He soon returned in 1972 as corps commander at II Corps at Multan, overseeing the Aid-to-Civil Power during the language disturbances in Sindh in mid-1972. He ensured that not a shot was fired while restoring complete calm and quiet.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
In 1974, he became colonel commandant of the Punjab Regiment and in 1976 was promoted to full general, taking over as the first Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, a position he served in till his voluntary retirement in 1978. It is said that he made the decision to retire after General Zia repeatedly delayed parliamentary elections and extended his martial law, which Shariff believed was unconstitutional. After his retirement he faded from public life, refusing to accept any post in government, living off his pension and savings.
General Shariff wanted to rotate the chairmanship among the three services (i.e., Army, Navy and Air Force) if the system of military governance was to evolve as intended. Because initially, Gen Shariff, being the senior most officer was chosen as the Chairman JCSC with Gen Zia-ul-Haq the Army chief. However, even before the system could evolve itself into a cohesive working structure the July 1977 coup disturbed the power balance totally, and tilted it heavily in favor of the army chief.
- A.H. Amin "Remembering Our Warriors: Brig (retd) Shamim Yasin Manto" Defence Journal, February 2002
- Brig (retd) Yasub Ali Dogar. "Pakistan's Higher Defence Reorganisation" Defence Journal January 1999
|Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
1976 – 1978