The 1965 war unquestionably was the peak point of the Pakistan Air Force's history. It brought into focus the fundamental character of this relentless air force when faced, for the first time, with a full scale confrontation with its
Mohammad Mahmood Alam
The 1965 war unquestionably was the peak point of the Pakistan Air Force's history. It brought into focus the fundamental character of this relentless air force when faced, for the first time, with a full scale confrontation with its number one enemy, the Indian Air Force.
Mohammad Mahmood Alam, who was born in 1935 in the state of Bihar, Western Bengal, is so far the top scorer fighter pilot of PAF. In the war of 1965, he shot down nine Indian planes (five in one sortie) and damaged another two.
On September 6, 1965, during an aerial combat over enemy territory, Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam, in an F-86 Sabre Jet, shot down two enemy Hunter aircraft and damaged three others.
For the exceptional flying skills and valour Squadron Leader M. M. Alam was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat. On September 7, 1965, Alam is said to have destroyed five more enemy Hunter aircrafts in less than a minute, which remains a record to this day. Overall he had nine kills and two damages to his credit.
It is worth quoting an Indian author here from his book Fiza'ya, regarding this remarkable achievement of M. M. Alam: "The claim of shooting down five Hunters within 30 seconds by Squadron Leader M. M. Alam, would be a feat unprecedented in the annals of jet air warfare, probably in the history of all air warfare. A Luftwaffe pilot in WWII downed five Soviet aircraft in a single sortie, but no one (except M. M. Alam) could claim five in the space of less than a minute."
According to M. M. Alam himself, he was a changed man. After his promotion to Wing Commander, he bagan to question and rectify his lifestyle, and reached the conclusion that the abandonment of traditional Islamic values by the PAF constituted a betrayal of the people it served.
The most obvious symbol of that compromise of values was the consumption of alcohol. Alam not only quit such immoral and un-Islamic practices himself, but also took the initiative to persuade his colleagues to banish alcohol from the officers' mess. Not surprisingly, Alam's growing zeal for Islam frustrated many PAF officers, a good many of whom were his superiors.
In 1979 Alam took a leave of absence and slipped over the border into Afghanistan. It is believed that Alam advised and inspired the Mujahideen of Afghanistan in their operations against the Soviet- backed Afghan government.
After his return to Pakistan from the Jihad against the Soviet atheists, Alam's life was changed. He began to live a life of simplicity, residing in a sparsely furnished apartment in Karachi with little more than a pile of books.
It is interesting to note that during his appearance on Pakistan Television with his fellow war veterans in 1994, this once dashing Ace of Pakistan made very few remarks about his brilliant war time achievements, which was quite indicative of his new humble and peaceful nature. "That had been another, earlier Mohammad Alam," as Alam himself admitted in that interview. Indeed that new Alam was a different man, more concerned with his spiritual integrity than with glorifying his old dogfights.
We should honour and pay tribute to this honest and God-conscious man, not only for the great courage he demonstrated in the 1965 war and for the other landmarks in his PAF career, but also for his courage in giving up his prestigious life and for his efforts in removing immoral practices in Pakistan Air Force.
M. M. Alam passed away after protracted illness on 18 March 2013 in Karachi.