The hero who didn’t die young

Published Apr 16, 2013 09:52am

290-MM-Alam
The one person who had a sustained and wholesome influence over my life from birth to green youth – a man called M.M. Alam – died recently, without ever meeting me, or even hearing about me and his influence over me or anyone at all. He had lost much of his shine by the end and so they used the epithet of ‘national hero’ one last time in the news media and buried the man who never seemed to measure up as a Pakistani hero anyway.

I was born in the moments Squadron Leader Emem Alam – as the retired air commodore is fondly known in Sargodha – was fighting his legendary dogfight over Sargodha during which he shot down a world record seven enemy aircraft in less than a minute. An aunt says the midwife who had left my mother with the newborn’s umbilical cord uncut to watch the air battle from rooftop, swore that she saw in the bright midday light, and counted, nine kafir aircraft going up in flames one after the other. ‘They were popping like corn kernels in hell’s fire’. Emem Alam the war hero and I were born at the same moment. So they named me Masud Alam after him.

The above is a summary of lies, half-truths and a misleading narrative of a historical event I believed and propagated throughout my childhood. I did so because: one, it used to be really important for me to impress people; two, it wasn’t far removed from reality and sounded cleverer; and three, I mildly disliked my name and wanted to explain it away creatively. The correct version of events and facts is: During the war, enemy aircraft were announced to the public with cautionary sirens and not with invitations to go on to rooftops, and even if you ditched the safety of the trench, you couldn’t see the speed shooting spectacle from a Sargodha rooftop because it actually took place over Sangla Hill, more than a 100 km away, at a quarter to six on that autumn morning; Emem Alam downed three aircraft during that mission, one over Sargodha and two over Sangla Hill, while another pair of them was hit in the Sangla encounter but managed to escape; and Emem stands for Mohammad Mahmood, not Masud.

The bit about my birth coinciding with the birth of Alam-the-hero is, however, true.

And what a hero! I am told he used to be as big and popular a name as any Bengali could imagine making in West Pakistan. It was bigger than Shabnam … and bigger than Runa Laila and Alamgir who both came much later. He was a national hero then, but has always remained and still is Sargodha’s identity. He is the reason Sargodha is known as ‘City of Eagles’ and not the kinnow capital of the citrus world, which it definitely is and has always been. He didn’t have the looks of Shan or Moammar Rana of course, but he was a fighter pilot, and a bloody good one at that. He had the highest gunnery scores in the PAF, the highest number of kills in combat, and he downed the first Indian Hunter on 6th September during a dusk raid on Adhampur for which he was awarded Sitara-e-Jur’at, with a Bar added for his epic dogfight the very next dawn.

Before landing that morning of 7th September, Alam triumphantly informed the control that he’d shot down five Hunters. By the time his claim was verified and found to be short by two, owing to the miraculous safe landing at Halwara of two of his badly holed up Hunter victims, the word had gotten out that Emem Alam had made aviation history.

Tradition suggests that when we make someone a war hero we consider it a national duty to exaggerate the fête. So, till date, his record is said to be five, seven or nine downed aircraft in a single sortie. One account available at Wikipedia says: ‘In one mission, on 7 September 1965, Alam downed five Indian aircraft in less than a minute, the first four within 30 seconds, establishing a world record.’ This information is so much like a 10-year-old me boasting to my class mates.

I grew up and moved on. I was no longer keen on becoming a fighter pilot, ‘to bomb Indira Gandhi and liberate Kashmir’ as I had been promising anyone who cared to hear out a precocious boy with a claim to have been born as an accessory to an epic dogfight in the Sargodha skies. My change of heart may have been influenced by the fact that Indira Gandhi was already killed, Kashmiris seemed in no hurry to be liberated, and my childhood inspiration – Emem Alam – had shrunk as a hero even though his heroics continued to be exaggerated.

Like other Bengalis he wasn’t given an active part in the ‘71 war but unlike many he survived the fallout of the war that saw Bengali servicemen coerced into leaving Pakistan for Bangladesh. He declared, in no uncertain terms, that he was a Pakistani and will remain one. He rose to the rank of a one-star general and occupied the important position of Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans), and that is when his career stalled and never recovered.

Professional jealousy may have been a factor in turning senior officers against him and his ethnicity may have made him a soft target, but his born-again zeal for Islam and his vocal and public opposition to the way his unit or the PAF in general was being run, proved to be the stick he was finally beaten out with. He was prematurely retired (effective 1982) and sent on leave in 1981 by the then Chief of Air Staff, Anwar Shamim, the only service head in the PAF history who built a reputation for a lavish lifestyle, frequent and blatant misuse of his position by his family, and his close relation with the president (Gen Zia ul Haq) that allowed him to stay at the helm of PAF as the longest serving CAS. The two were poles apart in their outlook and motivation as professional soldiers. Alam, who was weaker of the two, was frustrated enough to break all military codes of conduct, especially his public altercations with senior commanders and their families, and thus provided ample grounds for his removal.

To say that Alam was mad at being thrown out will be a gross understatement. PAF wasn’t just a source of livelihood for him, one that helped him take care of his family after his father died, and to educate and settle down his many siblings for the sake of whom he broke off his own engagement and never married. Flying was his passion, PAF was his life and Pakistan was his obsession. He was and remained so incensed with the forced retirement that he refused to accept his end of service dues, including pension. But he never left the air force physically even after it left him officially. For more than 30 years of his post-retirement life he lived on at air bases. His last residence was a BOQ (bachelor officer’s quarter) at the PAF base Faisal in Karachi. To his credit he never went public with his grievances.

In his last few years in the service he became a voracious reader and an insufferable preacher. He felt strongly about Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union and took long leave to visit Afghanistan to advise Gulbuddin Hekmetyar on strategy, around 1979. After his retirement he is said to have openly joined Afghan mujahideen and fought alongside them in mid ‘80s.

The Facebook page he started in August 2009 gives a peek into his aging mind. He was consumed by patriotic fervour, enraged by the universal victimisation of Muslims, and impatient for reform through religion. A majority of entries on the page are links to other right wing web sites and material by one, Syed Zaid Hamid – the Afghan-mujahid turned TV-mujahid.

This is hardly sounding like the profile of a national hero. For all practical purposes, he had ceased to be one. When he died on the morning of March 18, 2013, at PNS Shifa, the prolific national media couldn’t come up with one comprehensive obituary despite getting a few months’ preparation time, thanks to false rumours of his death at the end of last year, and again in February this year. Instead, every media outlet relied on unverified accounts of  the‘65 war and clichéd adjectives to paint him as a worthy hero, in the news item about his death.

While it was a chronic lung ailment that killed Alam-the-man, it was longevity that killed Alam-the-hero, much earlier. Generations of PAF cadets have learned their first lessons in heroism from the ubiquitous adage displayed in their mess halls, living quarters, and pretty much everywhere else: ‘Heroes die young’. Alam died four months shy of his 78th birthday.

 


Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at masudalam@yahoo.com

 

 


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.


Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at masudalam@yahoo.com

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

More From This Author

The father of taboos

Growing up exposed to sexual abuse is considered a necessary rite of passage - you have to survive it to become a man.

Growing wings in a bus

‘Give my salam to your mother,’ she hissed to the man who molested her. ‘I have taught you a lesson she should have.’

Consulting for love

My clients all speak differently but all of them use the noun love and the verb fail in the same sentence.

Comments (89) Closed




Qureshi
Apr 16, 2013 06:18am
What a load of rubbish.
Zafar Iqbal
Apr 16, 2013 06:27am
Mr.Masud Alam , please do correction for one thing that M.M.Alam was never a Bengali.He was born in Calcutta ( now Kolkata) his parents moved to Kolkata from Bihar and his mother tongue was URDU .
Asad Ali Shah
Apr 16, 2013 06:29am
The best obituary I have read in a while. M. M. Alam may have passed to the next world, but his legacy will last a very long time, even if it is exaggerated.
Syed S Shere
Apr 16, 2013 06:53am
This guy Masood Alam is apologizing for the Punjabi mentality that persists in the PAF by unloading on M M Alam. For one I know M M Alam was not a native Bengali but was a Mohajir whose family had settled in the then East Pakistan. M M Alam got in trouble with C in C Anwar Shamim just before 1971 war because he had openly questioned Anwar Shamim why he was transferring funds overseas and buying property in Canada while the nation was gearing up for a difficult period before the war. Anwar Shamim and his ilk did not like being put on the spot and they ganged up on M M Alam. I know this because my father in law was a witness to the above mentioned event because he was also a serving officer in the PAF between 1948 - 74.
Wiqas
Apr 16, 2013 07:27am
Sounds like writer has some personal grudges with our hero (M M Alam), where he is sharing his knowledge after the hero has died. Specially I did not like the information sharing on hero's engagement. It was really very personal information and writer really did a bad job there. Sorry but shame for writer.
Junaid
Apr 16, 2013 08:05am
@ Syed Shere. I dont see any Punjabi unloading here. And I dont see a conflict of what you state vs. what the author states. You are providing more information. That MM Alam was unhappy at the corruption from Anwar Shamim leading to Shamim et al creating a coalition against Alam. MM Alam was from Calcutta from the state of Bengal in India...so a Bengali indeed but not a Bangladeshi. :)
Junaid
Apr 16, 2013 08:09am
Zafar Iqbal. Calcutta is the capital city of West Bengal state. The residents of Bengal are called Bengali. MM Alam was indeed a Bengali...but not a Bangladeshi. All Bangladeshis are of course Bengalis since Bangladesh (or East Pakistan formerly) was primarily East Bengal. You may want to distinguish between Bengali ethnicity and Bangladeshi nationality/nationalism.
A. Khan
Apr 16, 2013 08:57am
A very well written obituary. Thanks
Khalid
Apr 16, 2013 09:12am
Very sad to see that being mohajir, punjabi and/or bengali has overtaken the emotions of most people rather than giving credit to our hero. What a sad country we live in.
Ahmed j
Apr 16, 2013 09:30am
We all die and what matter most is how you die. Anwar Shamim, I suppose died recently as well but he is never mentioned publicly. MM Alam is there to stay, to be remembered as our hero, always.
ali ahmed
Apr 16, 2013 09:34am
thaks..for great inside story
Riz
Apr 16, 2013 09:40am
"You die a hero or you live long enough to be reduced to a villian". Alam is the source of inspiration for any pilot with a pakistani flag on his shoulder who sits in those angry birds. RIP Sir. Salute from a pilot two generations down the lane who wishes to walk in your shoes.
Ebrar ul Hassan
Apr 16, 2013 09:59am
junaid,we are a punjabi family have been living in Quetta since 1935 migrated from Lahore.half of our family still living in Lahore .The Balochi people say us punjabi because we speak in punjabi.So you dont equate a person with the local people whose mother tongue is different from that state.
Saeed
Apr 16, 2013 10:06am
Mr Zafar, M M Alam' s mother tongue was not Urdu, I met him and listened him, he could only speak few sentence at a stretch in very strong accent of Urdu and he was more fluent in English.
Zafar Iqbal
Apr 16, 2013 10:15am
Mr.Junaid , people are recognized by their mother tongue .Sikh, Gujrati, Marwari , Bihari and so many different nation are living in Kolkata .Do you mean All are Bangalis ? Bangali means whose mother tongue is Bangla.Thousands of Bangla speaking people are living in karachi ,but they are called Bangali not sindhi. similarly M.M.Alam mother tongue was not Bangla so we cannot say him a Bangali.
MOHAMMAD
Apr 16, 2013 10:30am
DEAR MASUD SAHIB, Alam is a source of inspiration for a pilot.MAY ALLAH BLESS HIS SOUL. HE WAS A TRUE PAKISTANI. THERE IS no fun to dig into the past. the bottom line is that he is the source of inspiration for any pilot. PAKISTAN ZINDABAAD
Talha
Apr 16, 2013 11:15am
This obituary reflects heavily on the author's biases about heroism, religiosity, activism and old age. I do not know M.M. Alam in person but I know that this not how people who have served their nation with sweat and blood are bade farewell. Their minor faults (if any) are overlooked and not propagated when they are no more their to defend their honor. Inna Lillah he wa ina ilaihe rajein (indeed we are for Allah and to Him is our return). May Allah have mercy on M.M. Alam, a man who I believe impacted my life by altering the course of history and may Allah forgive his mistakes and enter him in Jannah. Ameen.
Syed Hydar
Apr 16, 2013 11:26am
"Emem Alam downed three aircraft during that mission, one over Sargodha and two over Sangla Hill". What's the source of your info? M.M. Alam 'is' a hero and heroes never die!
Ibrahim
Apr 16, 2013 11:32am
"The eyes can not see, what the mind does not know." You have to have a certain intellectual level, to understand well written, fact based articles such as this one.
Gholam Mohammad
Apr 16, 2013 11:38am
I and MM Alam were friends from our boyhood. We both studied in Govt. Hight School Dhaka. We were living in Nrinda Dhaka since 1947. Our mother tongue was urdu. Our and Alam's family migrated from Kolkota to East Pakistan. In fact we belonged to the urdu speaking community. Alam had a passiion for flying. We both joined Shaheen AirScout. There is a llong story to tell about our boyhood friend ship but one thing I could say that he never tolerted injustice and waste of national wealth and corruption. I tried to see him at Al-Shifa but he was sleeping and I was not allowed to see him. May Allah rest his soul in peace. Ghulam Muhammad
Zahid Hussain
Apr 16, 2013 11:54am
MM Aalam,Dead, gone, but living, present and here for all those who believe in loyality with the nation.
Imtiaz Haider
Apr 16, 2013 12:18pm
Please remember him as a NATIONAL HERO, this is way we are down as a nation. We are Panjabi, sindhi, pathan, balochi, mohajor etc. but are we PAKISTANI?
Masud Alam
Apr 16, 2013 12:22pm
The link to the reference is within the line you have quoted. It is an authoritative book written by a senior and serving PAF officer.
Hum
Apr 16, 2013 01:21pm
Brilliant article.
Masud Alam
Apr 16, 2013 01:31pm
M. M. Alam
Rac43
Apr 16, 2013 02:08pm
Nice one. Enjoyable yet informative opinion.
Abr_e_Gurezaan
Apr 16, 2013 02:09pm
MM Alam was undoubtedly a very accomplished pilot, and there's enough chivalry in the IAF to concede that as well. However the "5 planes in less than a minute" claim fails any honest analysis, and has sadly only served to reduce his stature in other ways. Most unbiased sources (including many Indians) accord him 4 confirmed kills + 1 very likely attributable to him over the course of the 1965 war.. which by any standards is still quite a feat. Clearly, being skilled and having impeccable integrity are two different things, and rare are those like ACM Nur Khan who could combine the best of each. On a side note - My fellow Punjabis finding it difficult to admit to MM Alam's Bengali ethnicity may want to note that both the Flying Aces produced so far by the subcontinent happened to be Bengalis (the other being Indra Lal Roy in WW-I)
RamRahimRobert
Apr 16, 2013 02:24pm
Reading comments one would notice how discussion quickly turned into communal, M.M. Alam could be a Bihari, Bengali,Mohajir since there family migrated from Bihar, You could also argue he might be a Buddist or a Hindu(wait before you pickup a stone) If you are digging his past why not take few more steps. Your method of prayers may set you apart as sunni, shia, muslim christian, hindu, however your language, culture, habits are developed over centuries which sets you apart in today's shrinking globe
Asif
Apr 16, 2013 02:39pm
Top class writing, empathetic and insightful.
Muhammad Ahmed Mufti
Apr 16, 2013 02:50pm
Two out of five planes did not explode in mid air rather landed and were discarded. To me it is still a score of 5/5. The only difference is that two humans survived mid air death and that is a good thing.
imran
Apr 16, 2013 02:58pm
M M Alam will continue to be a source of inspiration for generations to come. People will continue to identify with him, heroics on display by this legend have few parallel!!!
M.Farhan Khan
Apr 16, 2013 03:35pm
@ Masud Alam, could we call M.M.Alam as the history's only 'jet-ace-in-a-day' ? Who's facts are right, its a bit confusing.
gangadin
Apr 16, 2013 03:43pm
"Professional jealousy may have been a factor in turning senior officers against him and his ethnicity may have made him a soft target, but his born-again zeal for Islam and his vocal and public opposition to the way his unit or the PAF in general was being run, proved to be the stick he was finally beaten out with." Complete Non-Sense. A good pilot but a lousy leader. No leadership qualities what so ever. Started hiding behind religion.
Ashah
Apr 16, 2013 04:20pm
May he RIP I was a very young Boy when I was inspired by this person it is Sad to know he ended the way he did !
Ebrahim
Apr 16, 2013 04:35pm
I
Pakistani kaka
Apr 16, 2013 04:37pm
May the Almighty bless the departed soul. Mr MM Alam did shoot down the 3 or 5 planes, but did so when retreating from the actual battle flight. He had complained of aircraft trouble, and asked to be turned back to base, which was approved, and when he turned back he saw the Indian planes and thus his act of heroism. He did a great feat, but we have a knack for exaggerating the facts, and in this case the fortunes of MM Alam did turn around even though he was deemed to be somewhat a coward in the Air Force. Speak to any old Air Force officer and they will vouch for this!
Kamal Mansoor
Apr 16, 2013 04:49pm
Now this is how one is supposed to write! Thank you.
Krish Chennai
Apr 16, 2013 04:56pm
Wow, what an interesting exchange. I have no doubt that had Alam listened to Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Baul, Faiz, or even Bulleh Shah, he may have regretted his heroics.
M. Jawaid
Apr 16, 2013 05:04pm
Shame to all those who are assassinating the character of a great hero of Pakistan. Does it really matter if he was a Bengali or Bihari? He fought for Pakistan in 1965, but was not allowed to fight in 1971 because of personal vendetta by his superiors. He proved that he was a loyal Pakistani throughout his life. He was persecuted and suffered because he never tolerated injustice and waste of national wealth and corruption especially by Anwar Shamim and his likes. As some one very well said: he (Anwar Shamim) is never mentioned publicly. MM Alam is there to stay, to be remembered as our hero, always.
Mehtab Khan
Apr 16, 2013 05:49pm
Whatever the merits & demerits of this obituary, the fact remains and will remain M. M. Alam was great. He was a truthful, steadfast human being and a legendary figure whose deeds & memories will continue to inspire the young men & women in the cockpit for generations to come. Let us not indulge in the controversy as to what his ethnicity was or the language he spoke; he was a patriot Pakistani and a true Muslim. I cant understand the logic in the writer's contention that heroes die young, while MMA died when 78?
Anam
Apr 16, 2013 05:58pm
.. and we go again, people arguing if he was Bengali or Urdu speaking individual - Pakistanis never fail to act " immature " under any circumstances. Right - now lets move to the article, it could have been written in much eloquent way. Third - Mr Alam died in 1971, when his loyality was tested - he never really was living after that - RIP Alam Sahab -
Mohinder sandhu
Apr 16, 2013 06:01pm
Shooting down 7 fighter planes in 1 minute(most probably indian) is a world record,where is this world record, recorded. Guinness book of world record do not have it.Homage pAid to a hero has to be on FACTS not dreams
Muhammad Baqir
Apr 16, 2013 06:56pm
After he died, what the author wants to convey his hunt-count is less than that is publically known? Why not when he was alive?
Nero
Apr 16, 2013 07:02pm
That's a bit sad, in some ways! But Alam was indeed Bengali. The Indian state of West Bengal, where Calcutta is, is as Bengali as it gets. Both Bangladesh and Indian state of West Bengal are predominantly Bengali.
John
Apr 16, 2013 07:17pm
This is a brilliant piece of Lifafah journalism. If you want attention that lasts less than 30 seconds, throw dirt on a hero, and create a controversy. What a pity, DAWN is fast attenuating its standards! The author did not cite any references for the facts, rather he presents his opinions as facts. So it
Ali
Apr 16, 2013 07:25pm
Alam was a fraud of the higest order and mis represented his Indian kills. I was in the PAF. It is well known in the PAF. One day the truth will come out and all charlatans will be exposed in the history books.
Watan1
Apr 16, 2013 07:28pm
Well my father was in Ministry of Defense and he said MM Alam was a very friendly person and always polite.. but sadly.. it was known in defense ministry circles that most likely M M Alam had exagerated how many enemy aircraft he downed. Our people needed a boost to their morale and hence the legend was created. Let it be the man has passed and returned to his creator Allah (swt)
Zak
Apr 16, 2013 07:57pm
MM Alam= Pakistan
Dilnawaz
Apr 16, 2013 08:31pm
Mr. Masud Alam, you are a sick man. You grudge against MM Alam because you were named after him but could not live up to it. You talk about getting your facts straight but you incorrectly claim that he was a bengali, which he was not. He will always be a national hero and you will remain a looser.
Kamal
Apr 16, 2013 09:55pm
What a sad comment. Try to be a Pakistani if possible. No one is a Mohajir any more.
Atique, Australia
Apr 17, 2013 12:05am
M M Alam was not Bengali as in fact his parent originally belong to Behar. He was born in Calcutta and later on his family was migrated to then East Pakistan. His father was running a business in Culcutta prior to move to East Pakistan. I got the opportunity to meet him twice.
Khan Baba
Apr 17, 2013 12:22am
so all the urdu speaking people lived in East Pakistan were begalis?
Rafiq Ahmed
Apr 17, 2013 12:36am
Not really. The writer tries to diminish the achievements of MM Alam by trying to sound very logical and fair, a trait displayed often by liberal wanna be's at Pakistan's expense. He is just hoping he would be noticed by some Indian publisher or think tank by reducing MM Alam's score from 5 to 3 aircraft bagged.
Shahid Latif
Apr 17, 2013 01:21am
What is the writer trying to reach at? Berating a hero or trying to find himself in the shadow of a worthy patriotic Pakistani. M.M. Alam is my hero and a source of inspiration. He symbolizes courage and professionalism. Using him as a subject for a poor piece of writing is in bad taste.
DrTK
Apr 17, 2013 02:30am
MM Alam should be seen for what he was. A skilled pilot, who utilized these skills at a particularly emotional time of our adolescent and emotional nation. His heroism was limited to that one brief moment when he shot down those Hunters that were attacking us. The whole Nation admired him for that. And that is what he will be remembered for by all Pakistanis of that time, including myself!
RamaLama
Apr 17, 2013 02:46am
This the same PAF that got spanked by IAF many a time? "-)
john
Apr 17, 2013 02:46am
This is a brilliant piece of Lifafah journalism. If you want attention that last less than 30 seconds, throw dirt on a hero, and create a controversy. DAWN is fast attenuating its standards! The author did not cite any references for the facts, rather he presents his opinions as facts. So it
asim
Apr 17, 2013 02:51am
Typical yellow Pakistani journalism.Secrets are told after the person is long gone and not able to defend. I wish author had guts to expose the so called facts in the life of hero. What morally bankrupt journalism!
Rizwan101
Apr 17, 2013 03:34am
MM Alam was a hero and he died as a hero. Leave it at that and let the future generations remember him as a hero. We need to get away from our national habit of proverbial "shooting ourselves in the foot" by poking holes and bringing down anything good that comes out of Pakistan. Be proud of our achievements and our heroes and bolster them in the world as opposed to trying to belittle them. Stop being our own worst enemies as we already have enough of them around the globe. May God rest his soul in peace.
Qazi Sufian
Apr 17, 2013 03:56am
Air Commodore (R) Kaiser Tufail - neither serving nor very senior :) Authoritative book according to whom, the author or yourself? It definitely does not matter at all whether he shot down 3, 5 or 9 aircrafts; the only thing that matters is the generations he inspired and keeps on inspiring. The Air Force has a pretty amazing record in both, 65 and 71, wars and one of the major reasons was the 'jazba' that was brought in the Squadron rooms by the likes of Sqn Ldr Rafiqui (Shaheed), Air Cdr (Retd.) MM Alam, and Group Captain (Retd.) Cecil Chaudhry. There are a lot of heroes that the PAF produced and AC Alam was certainly one of them. I think you've just taken a cheap shot out of some hidden grudge you might've had against your parents for naming you after a Pakistani legend causing you to live your life under the immense shadow of his name, or you're simply a cynic to the core. We already have one NFP, please don't try to follow his footsteps.
Syed Hydar
Apr 17, 2013 05:50am
Very rightly said Sir.
farmerdr
Apr 17, 2013 06:35am
He was born in Kolkata into an ethnically Bengali family, educated in Dhakka, moved to West Pakistan. He was clearly a patriotic Pakistani of Bengali ethnicity.
Adil Jadoon
Apr 17, 2013 06:44am
May he rest in peace. Most of us will never become half them men he was.
Not Alam
Apr 17, 2013 07:14am
Dude.... change your name and live and let others live in peace.... do you want street to be named after new name..... pathtic attitude and worst approach.... grow up....
sana
Apr 17, 2013 07:56am
my brother and four cousins are in the PAF. they are very proud of MM Alam and have never rumored anything about him. i think u r talking about Panama air force, not Pakistan Air Force.
Ahmed
Apr 17, 2013 08:45am
I met the man, tho a very short meeting and while he was in hospital and very sick. I understood the real meaning of the word great after I met him.
Akram
Apr 17, 2013 09:09am
No need to get dramatic. All the figures are online to see who got spanked by who. Thats what this author is trying to prove that the age of rhetoric is behind us.
Rabba
Apr 17, 2013 10:02am
Good balanced article considering that are talking about a national hero. The Hero will always remain but it is also good to understand what else completes the hero..
haris
Apr 17, 2013 10:15am
Not every world record is mentioned in Guinness book
haris
Apr 17, 2013 10:18am
How could you say that? Get a proof otherwise until then be quiet
Hanif Qureshi
Apr 17, 2013 11:35am
Good article- I like the writer of this article. Kept on reading till the end.
Assad
Apr 17, 2013 01:16pm
Only in your dreams Lama!
Bhopinder Singh Dhillon
Apr 17, 2013 01:41pm
I wonder how could they give him one of their highest awards and then not allow him to fly in 1971.Unbelievable ,but its possible and is indeed true at the same time Nishane haider for Rasheed minhas who was killed by Matiur rehman ,who loved his people.Now what was the Pakistani intelligentsia thinking.No wonder the Bengallis are free.
Curious Me
Apr 17, 2013 02:02pm
Beautifully written: factual, a bit of sarcasm and a touch of humour. But Sir, tell me is there a recognized world organization or a committee that exists which sets up a camp at the war theater between two fighting nations all equipped with binoculars, stop watches to ascertain world air fight records. Or is it that the information is verified from the inflight camera recorders? By the same token, if a pilot had downed say 8 enemy planes but in 2 minutes 30 seconds instead, how would the logic of calculating the world record prevail then? There must be a formula of optimizing successful hits versus time. Let me have this information please if you have.
hasan ansari
Apr 17, 2013 02:11pm
Alam was not a ethnic Bengali but a Bihari settled in East Pakistan.A man of strong convictions vocally contemptuous of the servile senior officers....outspokenness does not pay ....even heroes are not exempt.In Second World War Lt. Commander Maclean was a VC; his criticism( wholly justified) of Service affairs riled the Admirals so much that they had him certified insane and locked up in a mental asylum....months of campaign by his wife and media finally secured his release.
aa
Apr 17, 2013 02:42pm
as an indian whose whole family serves in the indian army.....i must say this is not the way you treat a patriot....whatever his ethnicity,religion,political views might have been....this guy put his life on the line to fight for you guys.......that in itself should be enough reason to respect him
Faheem
Apr 17, 2013 02:57pm
I saw him once, he came Multan to deliver speech @ Jihad Fee Sbeelallah in late 80s. He was roaring like a loan when talk about enemy and shedding tears when tears when talking suffering people of Kashmir and Afghanistan He was a true Majahid & true Muslim. May God Bless Him.
Syed Hydar
Apr 17, 2013 04:59pm
Mr/Miss/Whatever. RamaLama, FYI- Pakistan Air Force is ranked in one of the world's top most air forces, producing one of the world's best fighter pilots. So whatever stuff you're high on please pass it over to someone else and do some research before you become completely hysterical. You guys just cant stop hating our guts can you?
Ram
Apr 17, 2013 05:07pm
can someone care to answer if he was national hero after 65 war why was his services was not used in 1971 war which turned to be fatal for Pakistan. If you make any honest attempt to answer this question you will find everyone in Pakistan is looked thru a tainted lens of religion and ethnicity. Once you take Islam we are all Bengalis who love fish curry and Punjabis who love aloo paratas, tamils who love idly sambar etc who also happens to be Muslim, Hindu, christians.
Saad
Apr 17, 2013 05:13pm
In the 1965 encounter, even unbiased sources show that the IAF suffered more losses in terms of aircraft numbers. Not that it's anything to boast about but that's what has been recorded in aviation history.
Saad
Apr 17, 2013 05:19pm
Agreed!
Thair Mengal
Apr 17, 2013 05:50pm
Masud, who has hired you as a pen. I could not believe Dawn has lowered its standard to such level. What are you trying to prove? People like you should be in India not in Pakistan. MM was a real hero and world recognized him for his accomplishment. If you want to take away his accomplishment because you got a nice transfer in your account located in Dubai then more power to you. MM Alam will remain a a national hero.
Saim
Apr 17, 2013 05:52pm
Mr Alam you should be ashamed of your self....Pathtic attitude and worst approach.. Change your name and stop criticising National Hero's.
Raj
Apr 17, 2013 06:18pm
Self made world record without any kind of verification.
Zak
Apr 17, 2013 07:20pm
MMAlam's kills were recorded and witnessed by other members of the sorties. Even the Indians acknowledged the 3 kills and 2 fell in Indian side after being hit. Although to save face the Indians claimed the 2 landed in their halwara base but admitted they were badly damaged by strafing. But there are always those who like to run down others to cover their own short comings.
Sadiq Amin
Apr 17, 2013 07:21pm
Two corrections to this article. M. M. Alam was on retirement when he spent time in Afghanistan; and he was advising Ahmad Shah Masood, not Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. Further, the Facebook page he mentions was not started or maintained by M. M. Alam. He never used a computer or surfed the internet.
Jaggy
Apr 17, 2013 09:44pm
good article, with a bit of wit and humour added to facts. well done
Syed S Shere
Apr 17, 2013 11:11pm
Junaid: What I was alluding to that M M Alam was grounded by Anwar Shmeen and his cohorts during the 1971 war on the false pretext that he was a Bengali, which was a lie. Many Bengal domiciled officers, including my father in law, remained actively involved during the 1971 struggle. There was a distinct separation between Urdu speaking and Bengali speaking officers. M M Alam was made a escape goat by the administration in the PAF because he was asking hard questions about their honesty.
asim
Apr 18, 2013 02:49am
Doesn't matter where he born, what language he spoke ( English, Bengali, Urdu),what he wore. He was Pakistani at heart, lived for it,fought for it and died here. What other credentials we need ? My salute to him.