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Mitty Masud


Mitty Masud

Zafar "Mitty" Masud
Birth name Muhammad Zafar Masud
Nickname(s) aircumdore Mitty Masud
Dragon Fly
Born 1923
Gujranwala, Gujranwala District British State of Punjab, British Indian Empire
Died 7 October 2003 (aged 79 or 80)
Karachi Sindh Province, Pakistan
Buried at Karachi War Cemetery
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1941–1971
Rank Air-Commodore (Brigadier)
Unit No. 9 Squadron Griffins
Commands held Eastern Military High Command
East-Pakistan Air Force
Faisal Air Force Base
Pakistan Air Force Sherdils
Sargodha Air Force Base
Battles/wars 1947 Kashmir war
1965 Indo-Pakistan war
1971 Indo-Pakistani Winter War
Operation Searchlight
Eastern Air Operations
East Pakistan war
Awards Hilal-i-Jurat (1965)
Sitara-i-Basalat (1971)
Other work Professor of Guerrilla war theory.

Air Commodore Mohammad Zafar Masud, (Urdu: محمد مسعودظفر ;b. 1923 – October 7, 2003; widely knew as Mitty Masud), was a high-ranking air force strategist and air commander of the Eastern Air Command during the East Pakistan war, prior to 1971.

Serving in the apex bureaucratic position in Government of East-Pakistan, air commodore Mitty had the area of responsibility of defending the airspace of East-Pakistan, but resigned from his position with the surprise resignation of Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, martial law administrator and Unified Commander of Eastern Military High Command. Though, he continue to serve in the capacity as commander of eastern high command 7 March 1971 until being replace on 26 March 1971.


  • Early life 1
  • Air Force career 2
    • Mitty: Between the wars 2.1
    • Eastern Military High Command 2.2
  • Personal life 3
  • Death 4
  • References 5

Early life

Masud was born in Gujranwala, British Punjab State in 1923. Having joined the Royal Air Force in 1943, Masud was sent to Royal Air Force College Cranwell, Great Britain where he did his BSc in Strategic studies and also received a diploma in fighter pilot training.[1] He did a staff college course in United Kingdom from which Masud returned with the best foreign student award.[1] Upon his return to British Indian Empire, Mitty Masud opted the Pakistani citizenship as the Jinnah led the creation of Pakistan.[1] Mitty was by 1947 already an air force pilot and became the youngest pioneer of the newly born Pakistan Air Force.[1]

Air Force career

Mitty: Between the wars

In 1947, Commanding officer.[2] In 1972, the Pakistan Air Force officially gave commissioned to Pakistan Air Force Sherdils in an honour of Mitty Masud, who first presented the squadrons its flying colours.[2]

In 1964, Mitty was promoted to Group-Captain (Colonel) in the Air Force, and was made Commanding officer of the Sargodha Air Force Base. Mitty served under the Command of Air-Vice Marshal (Major-General) Eric Gordan Hall during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. As commanding officer of the Sargodha Air Force Base, Mitty's leadership and devotion to duty led to a successful aerial missions against the Indian Air Force (IAF). On the day and night of 7 September 1965, the IAF made five successive attacks on Pakistan Air Force facilities, and PAF's installations with Canberra bombers, Hunter and Mystere fighter bombers. Under the command of Mitty Masud, the PAF was retaliated, though the IAF heavily damaged the Air Force Base, PAF responded back with series of counter missions. After the war, Group Captain Mohammad Zafar Masud was honoured and awarded Hilal-i-Jurat in a colourful public ceremony by President Ayub Khan, for his active participation during the conflict.

Eastern Military High Command

In 1969, Mitty Masud was promoted to one-star air-commodore (brigadier-general) in the Air Force, and served in the Western Military High Command, at first. Having known as highly respectable and uptight officer in the Air Force, Mitty was widely regarded as a possible future Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force. In 1970, Air Commodore Masud was assigned to Dhaka, East Pakistan, and was sent as the top PAF planner and senior PAF top commander in the eastern wing. In April 1970, he arrived and reported to Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, Martial Law Administrator of the province, and the Unified Commander of the Eastern Military High Command (EMHC). In the following twelve months, he was made commander of Eastern Air Force Command (EAFC) of the Eastern Military High Command (EMHC) led under the command Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan who was also a Unified Commander of the Eastern Military High Command. There, he spent in East Pakistan, Air Commodore Masud studied, with increasing distress, the rapidly mounting military-political threat that none of the power wielders seemed able or interested to resolve. In March 1971, when President and Commander-in-Chief General Yahya Khan visited East Pakistan, Masud demanded a meeting to brief the President. In March 1971, Masud given presentation to top military leadership and gave a descriptive report on fact-filled evaluation of the civil- military environment. He forcefully argued that the turmoil in East Pakistan could never be resolved with military force, despite what the senior commanders in Pakistan Armed Forces are demanding.

In the meeting, he famously went on saying that "in the prevailing military imbalance, a semi-autonomous East Pakistan was far preferable to the certainty of a military defeat in the event that India decided to intervene". Coming from a relatively junior general officer, this evaluation was startlingly less-rosy than the armed force's presentation. It was also irrefutably well-reasoned".

During the briefing General Yahya had interjected several times to agree with Masud's arguments, and at the end said: "You must surely know that I too do not want a war and am doing my best to persuade Mujib and Bhutto to find a way out of the crisis."

On 7 March 1971, after a stunning and surprise resignation of Vice-Admiral Ahsan as Unified Commander of Eastern Military High Command, Masud was entrusted and became a Unified Commander, in emergence. He was the first air force officer to assume the command, and tried his best to stop the military action from happening. On 26 March, Masud was stunned and surprised when President General Yahya Khan ordered the military crackdown, Operation Searchlight and Operation Barisal in East Pakistan. After receiving orders from his superior officers, Masud had tried to contact the President several times but was unable, as Yahya's staff was monitoring the situation. Yahya's inner council had convinced him that the East Pakistanis could be easily subdued and normalcy quickly restore. An angry and frustrated, Masud travelled to West-Pakistan where he tried to get to President but he was unable as Commander-in-Chief Air Marshal (Lieutenant-General) Abdul Rahim Khan had asked him to obey orders and do what he is told to do. On 26 March 1971, an hour after the operations were implemented, Masud, a Unified Commander of the Eastern Command, resigned from his prestigious assignment, in protest. Disheartened, frustrated, and angered, Mitty took an early retirement from the Air Force, despite his colleagues recommendations. He quietly settled in Karachi, West Pakistan and did not comment a word during the war. As the conflict deepened, he was approached by the Pakistan Media representation, but he was quickly silent by his higher officials, therefore, he was refused to give any interview. After his retirement, Masud joined Karachi University as a lecturer in Conflict resolution. In 1972, Mitty Masud was honorarily awarded the Sitara-e-Basalat (Star of Good Conduct) for standing by his principles, by the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Personal life

Air Commodore Masud was very happily married to his devoted wife, Elizabeth, for 45 years and their son Salaar works as a software analyst in Europe. Elizabeth Masud, a German lady, speaks Urdu fluently and has, despite her own frail health, lovingly remained by her husband's side, including his long and difficult battle with Parkinson's disease.


Masud died in Karachi on 7 October 2003, due to a Cardiac arrest. Mitty received a Guard of honour from the Pakistan Air Force, and was honorarily buried in Karachi Military Graveyard, next to his wife.


  1. ^ a b c d  
  2. ^ a b c d e f Khan, Iqtedar A. (28 October 2003). "Tribute to Mitty Masud". Iktedar Khan. Retrieved 2010. 
Military offices
Preceded by
VAdm Syed Mohammad Ahsan
Unified Commander of Eastern Military High Command
7 March 1971 – 26 March 1971 1971
Succeeded by
LGen Tikka Khan
Preceded by
AVM Patrick Desmond Callaghan
Commander of Eastern Air Force Command
17 April 1971 – 7 March 1971
Succeeded by
Air Commodore Enamul Haque
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