ISLAMABAD: Country’s second four-star Admiral and second Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC) from Navy Admiral Muhammad Sharif who had just completed 100, passed away on Tuesday morning and was laid to rest in the afternoon here in the federal capital with full military honours.
The man of action led an eventful life and took part in all wars that Pakistan fought. He was Commander Eastern Naval Command in 1971 and became prisoner of war (POW) along-with General AAK Niazi. He became Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) afterwards and played an important role in building and strengthening the naval force in the wake of 1971 shattering events.
CNS Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and other retired and incumbent military officials attended the funeral prayers. Admiral Abbasi paid homage to the services of Admiral Sharif. Admiral Sharif was running “Eilaf” Club here since his retirement where Islamic teachings are imparted and ‘Zikar’ takes place. It also worked as a political and military think tank. He was born in 1920 in Gujrat and was uncle of Major Aziz Bhatti Shaheed, Major Shabbir Sharif Shaheed, both are recipient of Nishan-e-Haider.
He was at the center of all the major decisions made in Pakistan in the events involving the war with India in 1971, the enforcement of martial law in the country in 1977, and the decision to covertly intervene against the erstwhile Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He was perhaps the only officer left who participated in the World War II on behalf of the Great Britain before joining the Pakistan Navy in 1947.
As Lieutenant he decided to opt for Pakistan in 1947 and joined the newly established Pakistan Navy. He was among the first 20 naval officers who joined the Royal Pakistan Navy (RPN) as a Lieutenant. Sharif resumed his active military service in the Navy after his repatriation from India and was appointed the CNS in 1975 after the sudden death of Vice-Admiral Hasan Ahmed. After retiring from the military in 1980, the Admiral was appointed as chairman of Federal Public Service Commission while he continued his role as military adviser to President Ziaul Haq until 1988 when he retired from public service.
He was allowed to resume his military service and testified in the War Enquiry Commission, where he noted that: "the foundation for the defeat in East Pakistan could be traced back to the military coup in 1958 where senior officers became greedy self-serving politicians rather than soldiers."
In 1980, Admiral Sharif's retirement was due and decided not to seek for an extension as he was succeeded by General Iqbal Khan. He was given an honorary guard of honour, and a monument under his name was built in Navy NHQ and the Joint Staff HQ. Admiral Sharif was a recipient of Hilal-e-Jurat, which was awarded to him after the 1971 war and the "Nishan-e-Imtiaz” by prime minister Z A Bhutto.