Mohammad Shariff

For other people with the same name, see Muhammed Sharif.
Mohammad Shariff ايڈميرل محمد شريف
Birth name Mohammad Shariff
Born (1920-06-01)June 1, 1920
Died Alive
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Navy
Years of service 1936 -2015
Rank Admiral
Service number (PN No. 138)
Unit Naval Communications Branch (NCB)
Commands held Chief of Naval Staff (CNS)
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
Eastern Military High Command
Officer Commanding of PNS Dhaka
Eastern Naval Command
Pakistan Marines
Battles/wars World War II
Battle of the Atlantic
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Operation Dwarka
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Operation Searchlight
Operation Barisal
Pakistan War in Bangladesh
Operation Fair Play
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Awards Sitara-i-Jurat (1965)
Hilal-i-Jurat (1971)
Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1971)
Other work Chairman of Federal Public Service Commission

Mohammad Shariff, (Urdu: ايڈميرل محمد شريف; 6 February 1920 – 7 July 2015), (HJ, NI(M), SJ), was a retired four-star admiral who served as the Chief of Naval Staff after taking over the command of Pakistan Navy on 21 March 1979, when a three-star Vice-Admiral, Hasan Hafeez Ahmed, died in office. Admiral Shariff was the first four-star naval admiral who was appointed for the Chief of Naval Staff and also the Chairmanship of Joints Chiefs of Staff Committee — a principal and prestigious four-star assignment in the Pakistan Defence Forces.

Before reaching the four-star assignments, Admiral Shariff, as two-star Rear-Admiral, was the principal commander (second-in-command) of East-Pakistan Eastern High Military Command (Eastern Naval Command), and commanded the Eastern Naval Command during the entire war theater. After the war, Admiral Sharif signed the Instrument of Surrender and surrendered his Eastern Naval Command to Vice-Admiral R. Krishna of Eastern Naval Command in 1971. After 39 years passed, Admiral Sharif launched his first autobiography, Admiral's Diary, on September 23, 2010, providing further accounts, causes, and failure of Pakistan Defence Forces's Operation Searchlight.


Naval career

Shariff joined the Royal Navy in 1936 at age 16 as a sailor in the Communication Branch and witnessed battle actions on the high seas in the Atlantic during World War II.[1] One of his close colleagues at this time was Gautum Singh, whom he would fight against in 1971.[2] After the Independence of the State of Pakistan, Lieutenant Shariff opted the Pakistani citizenship, and joined the Pakistan Navy.[3] In 1953, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the navy, and in 1956, he was promoted to Commander where he was shifted as Staff Officer at Karachi Naval Base (COMKAR).[4] In 1961, Shariff was promoted to Captain, and commanded the PNS Badr until 1964.

Indo-Pakistani war of 1965

Main article: Operation Somnath

In 1965, before the Indo-Pak War of 1965, Shariff was promoted to one-star rank, Commodore.[4] Shariff as one-star Commodore actively participated in Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, and was one of the key planners of Operation Somnath of 1965.[4] He was present at the meeting to commence the mission and was the first one to raise his voice for the operation.[4] Commodore Shariff was put Second-in-Command of the Operation, while the Pakistan Navy's Flotilla was commanded by another one-star naval officer, Commodore S.M. Anwar.[4]

Pakistan Eastern Naval command

In 1969, he was promoted to two-star rank, a Rear-Admiral, and was given the command of Eastern Naval Command of the Navy.[4] Rear-Admiral Shariff commanded the Pakistan Naval operations in the East-Pakistan.[4]

In 1969, the military government of General Yahya Khan appointed Admiral Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan as the Unified Commander of Pakistan Eastern Military High Command (PEMiHC), and the activities, momentum and magnitude of the Pakistan Navy in East Pakistan was increased at a maximum level, and more military and naval exercises began to take place in East Pakistan that initially focused on Indian intelligence efforts.[4] East Pakistan under the martial law administration of Admiral Ahsan saw the period of stability and the civil control and law and order situation was effectively under control.[4] In 2010, Admiral Sharif eulogize his memories and concluded:

The initial military success (Searchlight and Barisal in regaining the law and order situation in East-Pakistan in March 1971 was misunderstood as a complete success.... In actuality, the law and order situation deteriorated with time, particularly after September of the same year when the population turned increasingly against the [Pakistan] armed forces as well as the [Yahya's military] government. The rapid increase in the number of troops though bloated the overall strength, however, [it] did not add to our fighting strength to the extent that was required. A sizeable proportion of the new additions were too old, inexperienced or unwilling....
Admiral Mohammad Sharif, Commander of Eastern Naval Command, [5]

Without any exceptions, the 1970 general elections rift country apart with resentment against each other was widely felt. In 1970, a final meeting was held at Dhaka where Admiral Ahsan objected any idea of commencing the operation who was joined by PAF's Eastern Air Command Commander General Mitty Masud. Despite opposition and further objection, Yahya Khan gave authorization of Operation Searchlight, forcing Mitty and Ahsan to resign for their respective services immediately.

During this time, Rear-Admiral Shariff was the most senior commander, and second in command of Eastern Military Command in East-Pakistan.[5] The Searchlight resulted in quick success, but it had created a temporary momentum on Mukti Bahini who started their insurgency from Barisal, a riverrine city which the Army had failed to infiltrated.[5] Therefore, Rear-Admiral Sharif's command was put in test when Sharif authorized the launch of Barisal which resulted in immediate success, but it had no long-lasting effects.[5] The success came with an honor for Admiral Shariff who was appointed second-in-command of Pakistan's Eastern Military High Command, with General Abdullah Khan Nazi being the Commander of Pakistan Eastern Military High Command.[5]

As the war progressed, the pressure on Pakistan Navy was mounted and heightened by the Indian Navy. The sinking of Ghazi — the only long range submarine — at Bay of Bengal, came at surprise for Admiral Sharif's plans, therefore Admiral Sharif responded to launch series of aggressive operations to support the Pakistan Armed Forces. The heavy deployment of Marines and Naval Special Service Group (SSG(N) were undertaken at Cox's Bazar and other strategic naval shore.[6] Soon after the deployment of Marines and SSG(N), the bloody battle between Pakistan Navy and Indian Navy ensued, and the SSG(N) units and Marines had beaten assaults after assaults.[5] Overall, the Pakistan Navy performed its mission task well and diligently by providing support to the army till the end.[5] However, while Navy was successful by performing its task, Pakistan Army's Eastern Military Commands were unsuccessful to achieve their objectives.[5] After the securing the East-Pakistan's strategic shores, Shariff gained prominence, and for his actions, he was made Second-in-Command of Pakistan Defence Forces in Eastern-Pakistan led by Lieutenant-General Amir Niazi.[5] As second-in-command, Shariff was then placed in important positions where he was presented in every coordination meeting led by General Niazi.[7]

His influence on Niazi and Pakistan Army grew as he was presented at every meeting and military briefing chaired by Niazi.[7] The Pakistan Army's staff officers and military planners briefed Admiral Sharif the every inch of development and the enforcement of their plans.[7] By the end of the conflict, Admiral Sharif had become the principal commander of Pakistan Eastern Military High Command where many of Pakistan Army's leadership and Pakistan Air Force operations commander directly reporting to Sharif.[7] (See the photo where Sharif is being briefed by Pakistan Army.)

Operations in Eastern theater

After the success of East-Pakistan Air Operations of Indian Air Force (IAF), Army Aviation's 4th Army Aggressor Squadron, commanded Lieutenant-Colonel Liaqat Asrar Bukhari immediately held a meeting, which was attended by combined military officers of Pakistan Defence Forces.[8] There, he was informed by Colonel Bukhari that he had been permitted and ordered by Eastern Command to evacuate all the serviceable aircraft that night to Akyab in Burma, along with the maximum number of friendly East-Pakistani nationals.[8] However, Eastern Air Command's commander Air Commodore (Brigadier-General) Inamul Haq objected the plan as he felt that on view of total air superiority enjoyed by the IAF that it would not be possible.[8] As the conference was chaired by Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, and in a meeting, Rear-Admiral Shariff strongly urged that Colonel Liaqat Bukhari should be allowed to give it a try, as several helicopters would be prevented from falling into enemy hands.[8] General Niazi agreed with Rear-Admiral Shariff and ordered Colonel Liaqat to launch an evacuation operation immediately.[8]

Final stand

During the entire military conflict, the operations were failed and the insurgency was widely spread to entire provincial state, the East-Pakistan.[5] The senior general officers began start to blame on each other whilst each one of them projected himself as the hero who fought well and inflicted heavy casualties on the advancing Indians.[5] The Indian Military had intervened in East-Pakistan, the Eastern Air Command and Eastern Military Command were fell apart, forcing Lieutenant-General A. A. K. Niazi to surrender the Pakistan Eastern Command Forces to his counterpart Jagjit Singh Arora. Initially there were no intelligence on Indian military movements and troops rotation, and the senior general officers of both PAF and Pakistan Army were blaming the Corps commander and Commander of Eastern Military High Command, Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi for their failure.[5] In spite of Eastern Naval Command paying a heavy price, Admiral Sharif continued to keep the moral of Pakistan Navy personnel on high who were later pushed back to the wall by Mukti Bahni and the animosity of public that pounded the Pakistan Naval assets.

As Indian Armed Forces entered in East-Pakistan, Shariff planned an immediate evacuation operation.[4] He commanded and oversaw the maximum evacuation of Pakistan Naval assets from East Pakistan to Burma in a limited time.[4] However, the night Pakistan Eastern Military High Command were surrendered, Shariff with small number of military officers were planned to leave as the Pakistan naval vessel, with holding of other officers and civilian, was waiting for their evacuation.[4] As the East-Pakistan fell, all the naval routes were successfully closed by Indian Navy, forcing Shariff to remain in East-Pakistan.[4][7]

On December 16, Rear-Admiral Mohammad Shariff surrendered his TT pistol to Vice-Admiral R.N. Krishna Eastern Naval Command at 4:31pm (14:31hrs).[2] His TT Pistol is still placed in "cover glass" where his name is printed in big golden alphabets at the Indian Military Academy's Museum.[2]

Later, he joined General Niazi where he was presented at the time when the Instrument of Surrender was signed. Sharif was the only Admiral at that particular event, with thirty brigadiers, and four Major-Generals, and thousands of soldiers and personnel witnessed the event and instrument that Niazi signed.[2]

Surrender and return

After the surrender of East-Pakistan Forces, Admiral Shariff was taken as Prisoner of War (POW) and was taken to adjacent Camp No. 77A, where many of the senior military officials were held.[2] He was later situated at the Fort William, Calcutta, India. In 1972, U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) paid him a visit and paid his condolences to Admiral Sharif over the loss of East Pakistan.[2] Indian Navy's Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda also paid him a visit with basket of fruits and cakes which initially surprised him, and was concern of his health.[2] Therefore, Admiral Nanda transferred him to Jabalpur POW complex, Jabalpur, to Rear-Admiral Gautum Singh who had done communications operations and specialization under Admiral Sharif HMS Mercury.[2]

At then end of conflict.... We [Eastern Naval Command] had no intelligence and hence, were both deaf and blind with the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force pounding us day and night....
Admiral Mohammad Sharif telling Admiral Zumwalt in 1971, [2]

He was released by Indian Government and handed over to Pakistan Government on March 1973. Following his return, he began his active service in the Navy, despite the fact other senior officers were subsequently retired or fired from their services. In 1972, He then testified in the absolute failure of Pakistan Eastern Military Command at the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, a stand-up civilian commission headed by then-Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice Hamoodur Rahman.

As Chief of Naval Staff, Shariff also played an important role in the establishment of Pakistan Naval Air Arm in the Pakistan Navy, after the failure of Pakistan Naval Air defense. At first, with the help of PAF, Pakistan Navy raised its first squadron on March 1976.

Chief of Naval Staff

After returning to Pakistan, he continued his active duty, and his image in the country was surprisingly positive. He testified against Niazi in Hamoodur Rahman Commission led by Supreme Court of Pakistan's Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman. After his testimony, Sharif was appointed as Vice-Admiral in the Navy. On March 23, 1975, Sharif was appointed as Chief of Naval Staff by Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, after being promoted as Navy's first four-star admiral rank, becoming the first four-star admiral in the Navy since its inception in 1947.[9] His promotion came after the accidental death of Chief of Naval Staff Vice-Admiral Hasan Hafeez Ahmed. After assuming the command, he kept the Navy out of politics and focused on upgrading the Navy. As part of his policy, Sharif established the Naval Air Arm branch, and sought to improvise the navy as well by acquiring the missiles ships, destroyers and radar and spy ships. On 15 December 1977, Admiral Shariff established the naval air station Mehran Naval Air Base, where PAF's No. 25 Squadron Night Strike Eagles, an Aggressor squadron of PAF, Admiral M. Shariff presented the Squadron Colour to the No. 25 Squadron Night Strike Eagles.[10] Admiral Mohammad Shariff commanded Pakistan Navy from 23 March 1975 till 21 March 1979.

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff

In 1976, the civil disorder against Bhutto was intensified, and calls for Bhutto's overthrow was calling from all over the country. Sharif was Chief of Naval Staff during this time, and played an integrated role in support of then-Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq, in his military operation, Fair Play in 1977. Shariff is widely respected admiral in Pakistan Armed Forces, with experience of working as Martial Law Administrator in East Pakistan.[11] General Zia-ul-Haq was highly benefited working with Admiral Sharif, as Martial Law Administrator, and influenced then-President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry to appoint Admiral Sharif as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in 1979.[11]

In August 1979, after the retirement of General Muhammad Shariff, the President appointed Admiral Shariff was the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was the first admiral belonging to the Navy to have become a Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC).[11]

Soviet war in Afghanistan

The Navy and Air Force's crucial appointment was highly important for General Zia-ul-Haq to keep the inter-services loyal to General Zia-ul-Haq.[11] As General Zia was the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA), Admiral Sharif worked to enhance the capabilities of Pakistan Armed Forces and their intelligence efforts in the country which highly benefited Zia-ul-Haq.[11] In December 1979, he chaired a meeting with General Zia-ul-Haq, where he made no intentions against Soviet involvement in East-Pakistan's crises after witnessing the Soviet support to India and Mukti Bahini.[12] In this meeting, Shariff advocated for an operation to teach Soviets a lesson, and Lieutenant-General Rahman was kept hearing saying: "Kabul must burn! Kabul must burn!".[12] After this meeting, Zia authorized this operation under General Rahman, and it was later merged with Operation Cyclone, a programme funded by the United States and the CIA.[12]

Honors and recognition

In 1980, after completing his tenure as Chairman, General Zia-ul-Haq personally appointed him as Chairman of the Federal Public Service Commission.[12] Admiral Shariff led the appointment of those civil bureaucrats who were loyal to his government and his chairmanship, while those who weren't were subsequently moved.[12] He finally retired in 1986, after doing a forty-year-long service, and took an honorary retirement from Navy in 1986. A state guard of honor was given to him, and a monument after under his name was built in Naval Headquarters (NHQ) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Secretariat.[12] Admiral Mohammad Shariff is a recipient of Hilal-i-Jurat, which was awarded to him after the 1971 war when he commanded all the naval assets in the erstwhile East Pakistan; a Sitara-i-Jurat in 1965 after commencing the successful operation, Somnath.[12] In 1971, he was awarded "Nishan-e-Imtiaz by Bhutto after coming back from India.[12]


After his retirement, he lived a quiet life in Islamabad for more than a decade, and served as President of Elaf Club of Pakistan, a political and military think tank based in Islamabad.[13] On September 23, 2010, Admiral Shariff wrote and launched his first autobiography "Admiral's Diary", in English. The ceremony was held at the Bahria University Auditorium. Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir was chief guest on the occasion. The book launching was attended by seasoned retired military officer and serving bureaucrats, senior retired and serving officers of the three services, family members and friends of the author, notable literary personalities, press and media.[1]


  1. 1 2 Arshad, Muhammad. "Book titled "Admiral's Diary" launched" (php). Muhammad Arshad. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Roy, Mihir K. (1995). War in the Indian Ocean. United States: Lancer Publishers. pp. 218–230. ISBN 1-897829-11-6.
  3. "Admiral's Diary' launched in capital". The News International. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Jang Group of Newspapers. September 24, 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Sharif, Admiral Mohammad (2010). Admiral's Diary: §battling through stormy sea life for decades. Islamabad, Pakistan: Army Press, 2010. pp. 415 pages.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Staff Report. "Excerpt: How the East was lost: Excerpted with permission from". Dawn Newspapers (Admiral's Diary). Dawn Newspapers and Admiral's Diary. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  6. How East was lost.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Malik, Major-General Tajammul Hussain. "The Surrender". Major-General Tajammul Hussain Malik, GOC of 203 Mountain Division. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Khan, Brigadier-General Sher (February 2001). "Last Flight from East Pakistan: Anamazing escape of the complete Army Aviation Detachment personnel from East Pakistan in December 1971.". Brigadier-General Sher Khan and Defence Journal. Defence Journal of Pakistan. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  9. Arshad, Muhammad. ""Admiral's Diary'" launched". Muhammad Arshad.
  10. "No. 25 Squadron Night Strike Eagles, A brief history". PAF Falcon, an unofficial site of PAF.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (1980). Strategic analysis: The Naval dictatorship. University of California: Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses., 1980.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Yousaf, PA, Brigadier General (retired) Mohammad (1991). Silent soldier: the man behind the Afghan jehad General Akhtar Abdur Rahman. Karachi, Sindh: Jang Publishers, 1991. pp. 106 pages.
  13. "Active Members".

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Tikka Khan
Unified Commander of Eastern Military High Command
31 August 1971 – 14 December 1971
Succeeded by
Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi
Preceded by
Hasan Hafeez Ahmed
Chief of Naval Staff
1975 – 1979
Succeeded by
Karamat Rahman Niazi
Preceded by
Muhammad Shariff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
1978 – 1980
Succeeded by
Iqbal Khan
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