Squadron Leader Muhammad Mahmud Alam, Commander of No 11 Squadron, was already a notable leader and highly experienced pilot in 1965, when he was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat (“The star of courage”), a Pakistani military decoration, for his actions during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Alam holds the record of having downed five Indian Air Force aircraft in less than a minute.
Alam was born on 6 July 1935 to a well-educated family of Kolkata, British India. Although born and raised in the Bengal region, Alam was not ethnically Bengali, contrary to common perception. Alam’s family was of Urdu-speaking Bihari origin, having emigrated from Patna and settled in the Bengal province of British India for a long time.The family migrated from Calcutta to eastern Bengal which became East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) following the formation of Pakistan in 1947.