By By Syeda Qudsiya Mashhadi
A great Muslim Mujahid, pride of Pakistan, Air Commodore M. M. Alam departed from this corporeal life on 18th March 2013 at the age of 78. He was born on 6th July, 1935 in a well-educated family of Calcutta, British India. After completing his secondary education from Government High School, Dhaka, in 1951, M. M. Alam joined PAF in 1952 and was granted commission on 2nd of October, 1953. A hero of the 1965 Pakistan-India war, M.M. Alam, downed nine war planes in the aerial fighting. His record remains unbeaten. 7th September 1965 was the day when M. M. Alam rewrote the history of Air Warfare by setting new records while defending Pakistan’s Airspace against the aggressors. He shot down 5 Hawker Hunter fighters of Indian Air Force, in air-to-air combat by shooting down five Indian aircrafts in less than sixty seconds, the first four within a span of 30 seconds only. For such an awe inspiring feat of gallantry, M. M. Alam was awarded Sitara-e-Jurrat and also became the first and only “Jet Ace” in one mission. He retired in 1982 as an Air Commodore.
I never had the honour of meeting the great soul that M. M. Alam was, but what I learned about him from the people who had been close to him made me realize that he was not just a war hero as we have been brought up to believe. An acquaintance of M. M. Alam said about him, “M. M. Alam is a dervesh and a faqeer whose dua for Pakistan is accepted with Allah (swt).” This is the religious and spiritual dimension of M. M. Alam that we rarely see people writing about. Once M. M. Alam was asked about the secret of Allah’s special blessing on him; the reason he was given great respect and honour due to his monumental feats. M. M. Alam replied that for him PAF and Pakistan were his Ishq [true love]; it was not just a job for him. Even during Ramazan, in the scorching heat of the afternoon, he would sit inside his plane practicing aiming the guns so that he would not miss a single fire when the time came. It is a fact, that whoever has truly loved this Pak Sarzameen and done his duty to the utmost, Allah has given him glory here and in the hereafter. With the limited fire-power of his Sabre F-86, he shot down 5 planes in a minute. Such feats are only possible when you are zeroing your guns in unbearable heat, discarding all the comfort. This is true Ishq and Junoon which brings great honour and glory.
He was a humble person and he never let fame and success swell his head, if anything it increased his humility and faith in the Almighty. Once when a student [Aqib Khalique] asked him to explain to the young generation of today how he managed to shoot down five enemy aircraft during a dogfight in less than a minute, which is a world record to date, M. M. Alam sahib replied:
“I don’t like praising myself but I will just like to say that it was just the sheer motivation, determination and utmost courage in me and my fellows which gave us the power to tackle an enemy much larger than us in every proportion. In array of gunshots and thundering of bombs we just didn’t know how to stop. There was something pumping inside our hearts known as honour.”
When he was asked about the difference between today’s generation and the one that created this ideological state, he said:
“The difference is massive. At the time we and as an individual me too had an inspiration, an invisible belief, extreme determination and a sense of upheaval that whether we live or die we will create Pakistan. We had a vision for Pakistan and for us it was like something we dreamed of day in and night out, Pakistan was and is and will always remain the name of an ideology, a dream, a wish and an aspiration that drives and accelerated the thoughts of masses.
At that time me and my young fellows aspired to join the armed forces or the civil service of Pakistan unlike today’s youngsters who wish to be a part of some international firm situated outside this great land. Our youth as a whole is confused and divided today among ethical and social lines. The generation belonging to the elite class generally doesn’t think about this country and are more busy in improving their personal lives, furthermore those living under the poverty line fight a battle every day for a chunk of meal which they shouldn’t be blamed for. We are in need of a change like never before. A REVOLUTION!”
He believed that every single Pakistani was responsible for Pakistan’s destiny and had to work towards achieving that noble objective. He said:
“Revolutions and major changes across this globe have always been brought by those who had an empty belly or half-filled one, so I expect the middle class youth of today to bring that long awaited shift. But that doesn’t mean that young people of upper class and others can’t work or don’t possess the abilities to be a part of that. They have much more resources then those who are inferior to them in many ways. I am not against students going abroad for further studies as even our religion has ordained us to do whatever is takes to gain knowledge.
0.1 Million Chinese study in American universities but did that make them American? Did that cause them to stop thinking about their nation? The answer is surprisingly NO. They come back to their homeland to contribute in whatever way possible. Every single one of us should first try to be a better Pakistani and must pledge not to contribute in any action against morality. Be it voting for a corrupt leader on ethical grounds or compromising your national interest for the sake of your own interest in any way.
“There might be hundreds of innate leaders present in today’s society of ours but the only thing that’s lacking is the courage to speak against evil. We should have it, not having which might cause us to lose the freedom that we as a nation possess today.”
When the student asked him what message he would like to give to the young generation and what would he predict about the future of the great state, Pakistan, he replied:
“I will like to conclude by saying that our younger generation has more potential and the resources as compared to the youth of 1947 when Pakistan was created but the only thing lacking is sheer willpower to make a change. They must make a difference on every level possible. We only need the right intentions to make a difference and the political leadership which we could easily find in our own general populace.
How is that possible that we fail at finding a bunch of honest people? Pakistan was made for a reason; it consumed more than a million lives and countless loss of belongings in the creation of it. I just cannot believe that it will be destroyed or whatever the West’s propaganda is about its future.
It will survive and a revolution will come and this corrupt, ruthless and brutal elite will be overthrown by the masses. Justice will prevail InshaAllah, hopelessness is disbelief according to our religion. The younger generation should care about the country that has provided them with all the well-being and freedom of action that they have today. Our youth must rise as it’s now or never. It’s up to them to decide whether they select to be buried among those people who got demolished due to their hibernation.”
What beautiful words indeed! InshaAllah we will make Pakistan what M. M. Alam had envisioned it to be.
Pakistan Zindabaad! Pak Armed Forces Paindabaad!