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Air Force officials carrying the coffin of Air Commodore (R) Muhammad Mahmood Alam for the funeral prayers at PAF Masroor Air Base. — Photo by APP

KARACHI: Air Commodore (retd) Muhammad Mahmood Alam Khan, a veteran of the 1965 and 1971 wars, died in a hospital here on Monday after a long illness. He was 78.

Funeral prayer was offered at the Masroor Base and attended, among others, by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, PAF chief Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Corps Commander Lt Gen Ejaz Chaudhry and senior officials of the Air Force, Navy and Army. He was laid to rest with military honours at in PAF graveyard in Masroor Air Base.

Air Marshal Butt expressed sorrow over the death of a legend and national hero, saying that any chronicle of the aviation world or accomplishments of the Pakistan Air Force would remain incomplete without the mention of Mahmood Alam.

“He was a daring pilot, a thorough professional and a role model not only for the air force, but also for Muslims across the world,” the PAF chief observed.

M.M. Alam was born in Kolkata on July 6, 1935, into an educated family. After completing his secondary education from the Government High School, Dhaka, in 1951, he joined the PAF in 1952 and was granted commission in Oct 1953.

He attended several courses in the United States and the United Kingdom.

His major appointments included at air gunnery and as tactical instructor at the Fighter Leader School, commanding officer of three squadrons, director of operations research and as assistant chief of the air staff (flight safety and plans) at the air headquarters.

During the 1965 war with India, Squadron Leader M.M. Alam shot down two enemy aircraft and damaged three on Sept 6. He was awarded Sitara-i-Jur’at in recognition of his gallantry.

Sept 7 was the day when he rewrote the history of air warfare by shooting down five Indian Hawker Hunter fighters in air-to-air combat, in less than 60 seconds. The first four came down within a span of 30 seconds.

For this awesome feat, M.M. Alam was again awarded Sitara-i-Jur’at (with Bar). In addition, the government named a road in Gulberg, Lahore, after his after him.

M.M. Alam was deputed to Syria after that country’s government acquired his services for its air force. He served there for five years.