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Friday, February 16, 2024

NISHAN-E-HAIDER – Gallantry award of its own kind

Nishan-e-Haider is Pakistan’s highest military gallantry award created sometime after the partition but is retrospectively initiated from 14th August 1947. GVS gives an overview of the award, its recipients and their tales of bravery and sacrifice for the motherland.

GVS Magazine |

“Nishan-e-Haider” literally means “Emblem of the Lion” in the Urdu language. The word “Haider” is also the epithet of Ali, nephew of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and fourth Caliph of Islam. Ali was known for his bravery on the battleground and was referred to as ‘Lion of God’, by the Prophet himself.

The Nishan-e-Haider can only be awarded to members of the Pakistan Armed Forces for the highest possible acts of extraordinary bravery in the face of the enemy in air, land or sea.

The Nishan-e-Haider is manufactured by Pakistan Mint on order of the Ministry of Defense.

Its exclusivity can be gauged by the fact that, since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, it has been awarded only 10 times (now considered eleven, since Hilal-e-Kashmir, awarded by Azad Kashmir has been declared as NH). No living person ever received Nishan-e-Haider. Of the original recipients of Nishan-e-Haider, 9 were from the army and one from Air Force.

Maximum Nishan-e-Haiders, five, were given to martyrs in 1971 war against India. Only one was awarded in 1965 to Maj. Aziz Bhatti Shaheed who laid down his life on 10th September, in the defense of Lahore. Two awards relate to the 1947-48 war with India and two were awarded after the Kargil war.

Read more: Visiting Army Museum Lahore

Technically, Pakistan’s Nishan-e-Haider and India’s Param Vir Chakra can be considered a continuation of the Victoria Cross, highest British award for gallantry that was initiated in 1856 at the eve of Crimean War against Czarist Russia.

However, its exclusivity can be gauged from the fact that it was always awarded posthumously and no living person has ever received NH. Of the 21 Param Vir Chakara’s awarded till today 11 were to living persons.

Read more: Rashid Minhas – Youngest recipient of Nishan-e-Haider

And countless among more than 1300 recipients of Victoria Cross personally received the award in celebrations at Buckingham Palace. While there exists a market for the auctions of Victoria Cross no one in Pakistan has ever heard of a Nishan-e-Haider being sold by the families of the martyrs.

The Nishan-e-Haider is manufactured by Pakistan Mint on order of the Ministry of Defense. It is forged from captured enemy equipment and consists of 88% copper, 10% Gold and 2% zinc.

Naik Saif Ali Janjua
Naik Saif Ali Janjua
Azad Kashmir Regiment – Martyred on 26th Apr. 1948

Naik Saif Ali Janjua was a platoon commander in the 1947 Indo-Pakistan War. His platoon was given the responsibility of defending Budha Khanna during its siege. He defended his post valiantly during machine-gun crossfire and embraced martyrdom after being shot in the chest by enemy gunfire.

On March 14, 1949, the Defence Council of Azad Jammu & Kashmir adorned him with Hilale-Kashmir (posthumous) and on November 30, 1995, the government of Pakistan initiated the gazette notification to declare his Hilal-e-Kashmir as equivalent to Nishan-e Haider.

Captain Mohammad Sarwar
Punjab Regiment – Martyred on 27th Jul. 1948

Serving as a Company Commander in the Punjab Regiment during the 1947 Indo-Pakistan war, Captain Mohammad Sarwar launched an attack causing heavy casualties to a strongly fortified enemy position in Kashmir’s Uri Sector.

But as he advanced with six of his men to cut their way through a barbed-wire barrier, he was martyred when his chest was hit by a burst of automatic fire. Apart from Nishan-e-Haider, the government had established a community college, the Sarwar Shaheed College, in his honor near his birthplace in the Gujar Khan.

Major Tufail Mohammad
Punjab Regiment – Martyred on 7th Aug. 1958

In August 1958, Major Tufail Muhammad was a Company Commander in the East Pakistan Rifles. He and his patrol encircled an Indian post in East Pakistan’s Lakshmipur District.

In the resulting firefight, Major Tufail, despite receiving heavy wounds inside the bunker continued to lead his troops till the Indians were driven out. Later that day he succumbed to his wounds. He was 43–44 years old at the time when he was martyred.

Major Raja Aziz Bhatti
Nishan e Haider
Punjab Regiment – Martyred on 12th Sept. 1965

During the 1965 War, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti – a Company Commander in Burki area, Lahore – along with his platoon defended the strategic Bambawali- Ravi-Bedian Canal. He chose to stay with his forward platoon under incessant artillery and tank attacks for five days and nights.

He directed his men to answer the fire until he was hit by an enemy tank shell and embraced martyrdom. Major Aziz Bhatti is widely popular as the “Muhafiz-eLahore” (Protector of Lahore).

Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas
Nishan e Haider
Pakistan Air Force – Martyred on 20th Aug. 1971
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas (17 February 1951 – August 20, 1971) is the youngest and the only Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officer to ever receive Pakistan’s highest valour award, the Nishan-e-Haider.

He is remembered for his martyrdom on 20th August 1971 in a jet trainer crash while he was struggling to regain the controls from a defecting pilot: Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman. Minhas was only 20 when he died in the T-33 crash that happened when he was trying to wrest control of the plane from his senior, Matiur Rahman.

Shortly after taking off from Karachi he had radioed PAF Base Masroor with the message that his plane was being hijacked. The air controller requested that he resend his message, and he confirmed the hijacking.

Later investigation showed that Rahman intended to defect to India to join his compatriots in the Bangladesh Liberation War, along with the jet trainer.

Major Shabbir Sharif
nishan e haider
Frontier Force Regiment – Martyred on 7th Dec. 1971

Major Shabbir, Company Commander of a Frontier Force Regiment, was ordered in December 1971 to capture high ground near Sulemanki Headworks. During an enemy counterattack, he took over as a gunner on an anti-tank gun.

He was martyred when one of the enemy tanks fired at him. As the only person ever who received both the Nishan-eHaider and Sitara-e-Jurat for his bravery, he is regarded as the most decorated officer of Pakistan Army.

Sawar Mohammad Hussain
Nishan e Haider
Armoured Corps – Martyred on 10th Dec. 1971

Sawar Hussain joined the 20 Lancers of the Armoured Corps in September 1966 at the age of 17 years. He was driver in armored corp. During the 1971 War, he took part in a dangerous reconnaissance mission during which he directed rifle crews towards enemy tanks.

Sixteen enemy tanks were destroyed; however, Sawar Hussain was hit in the chest by a burst of machine-gun fire and he embraced martyrdom. He is the first soldier to be awarded Nishan-e-Haider.

Major Mohammad Akram
Nishan e Haider
Frontier Force Regiment – Martyred on 5th Dec. 1971

Major Muhammad Akram, whilst commanding a Frontier Force Regiment in forward area in Hilli district, East Pakistan in 1971, came under incessant air, artillery and armor attacks.

Despite enemy superiority, he and his men repulsed every attack for an entire fortnight and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. He embraced martyrdom during this epic battle on 5 December 1971. He was buried in the District Dinajpur, Bangladesh.

Lance Naik Mohammad Mahfuz
Nishan e Haider
Punjab Regiment – Martyred on 17th Dec. 1971

In the 1971 War, Lance Naik Muhammad Mahfuz was an infantry soldier deployed on the Wagha-Attari Sector where his company was pinned down by continuous gunfire.

Unarmed and wounded, he advanced towards an enemy bunker and bayoneted a soldier. He embraced martyrdom on the night of 17 December 1971 due to injuries sustained in the encounter. He was awarded Nishan e Haider on 23rd March 1972.

Captain Karnal Sher Khan
Nishan e Haider
Sindh Regiment – Martyred on 7th Jul. 1999

Karnal Sher Khan was a captain in the 27th Sindh Regiment of the Pakistan Army. He was posted to 12th NLI Regiment during the Kargil Conflict in 1999. After many abortive attempts, Indians managed to capture parts of Sher Khan’s post at height of 17,000 feet at Gultary.

He led a counter-attack and re-captured the lost parts of his post. But during the course, he was hit by machine-gun fire and embraced martyrdom near Tiger Hill, Kargil.

Havildar Lalak Jan
nishan e haider
Northern Light Infantry – Martyred on 7th Jul. 1999

Havildar Lalak Jan, hailed from Yasin, Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan. He volunteered to be deployed on the front positions located at the jagged peak during the Kargil Conflict.

On 7th July 1999, Lalak Jan sustained serious injuries as enemies pounded the area with heavy mortar shells. Despite being injured, he retained his position and frustrated the Indian assault. He embraced martyrdom due to the severity of his injuries.