War & Heroes

Nishan-e-Haiders of Pakistan

Captain Raja Muhammad Sarwar Shaheed (1910-July 27, 1948)
Captain Muhammad Sarwar was the first Nishan-e-Haider in the history of our great nation. He was born in village Singhori, Rawalpindi in 1910. His father, Raja Muhammad Hayat Khan served in the British Indian Army and rose to rank of Havildar. He served with distinction during WW-I and was awarded with a war medal. Along with the medal, the British Government also awarded him with three squares of agricultural land in Chak 229 Tehsil Samundri. After his retirement from the British Indian Army, Raja Muhammad Hayat Khan was also appointed as the “numberdar” of his village. He passed away on February 23, 1932.
Since his childhood, Raja Muhammad Sarwar was fond of reading and he acquired extensive religious knowledge. The people of his village named him “Sakhi (generous) Sarwar”. The chief characteristic of his nature was piety and devotion. His other hobbies were horse riding, hunting, and playing football.
He started his military career in the ranks as a Sepoy. He was a self-made man who finally rose to be a commissioned officer. He joined as a recruit in Baloch Regiment on April 15, 1929 and got his initial training from the old Baloch Centre at Karachi. He served there until April 30, 1941. On April 27, 1944, he passed out as a Commissioned Officer from Indian Military Academy Dehradun and took part in World War II, where he was awarded the Burma Star.
After independence, Captain Muhammad Sarwar joined the Punjab Regiment of Pakistan Army. Captain Muhammad Sarwar was serving as a Company Commander in the Uri Sector in Kashmir when he was tasked by his Battalion Commander to undertake a very important operation that involved a pre-emptive attack on a well defended Indian position that was to serve as a base for further operations by his battalion. Indian Army had landed in Srinagar on October 27, 1947 and since then advanced upto Uri. Indians had plans to capture the remaining Kashmir. There was a need to stop Indian advance and save innocent Kashmiris. Young Captain Sarwar decided to volunteer for noble cause of defending Kashmir.
The strength of the Indian Army was more than eight Brigades in Uri Sector and they were supported by tanks and engineers. What made the task more challenging was the fact that the Indian posts were located on an uphill position and had many LMG positions and tanks in this area.
The Commanding Officer asked for a volunteer who can silence enemy tanks and guns by ‘surprise attack’. Captain Muhammad Sarwar said, “Sir, I will perform this duty”. Capt Muhammad Sarwar thus planned his attack with diminutive details and the essence of his success depended upon the charge with an element of surprise. This called for highest level of leadership to lead his company by example, which he did by leading the charge himself.
By attacking a strongly fortified enemy position under heavy machine gun, grenade, and mortar fire, he not only led his Company bravely but inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.
Having achieved this initial foothold, he held it against several repeated counter-attacks and finally secured it as a base of future operations. In order to provide a safe passage to his battalion, he volunteered to make way for the rest of his battalion.
On the night of July 27, 1948 at 0300 hours, he took along six men, crawled out of his bunker to cut the enemy's barbed wire barrier to make way for his battalion to move through this gap for further operations. He moved  stealthily and bravely, closed up to the defensive position of the Indians and was able to cut the barbed wire for his battalion to pass through. While he was waiting to guide his comrades, he was picked up by the Indians, when he was still perched up near the gap in the barbed wire, he received a direct burst of enemy's heavy machine gun fire, and was wounded badly. He however, continued guiding his battalion despite being badly wounded and eventually embraced shahadat on the spot. By that time, the battalion was able to pass through, assemble and complete its task successfully.
In recognition for his courage, selflessness, and bravery that was beyond the call of duty, he was posthumously awarded with the first Nishan-e-Haider.
Captain Karnal Sher Khan Shaheed (January 1, 1970-July 5, 1999)
Karnal Sher Khan was born on January 1, 1970 in village Fujun (Nawan Kili) in District Swabi. His father, Khursheed Khan was a farmer and his mother died when he was only eight years old, in 1978. His paternal aunts brought him up. His family is deeply religious, and they say that Sher was an embodiment of piety and Islamic teachings. Karnal Sher’s grandfather Mr. Ghalib Khan had participated as a volunteer in 1948 Kashmir War.
When Karnal Sher Khan was born, his grandfather proposed to name him “Karnal Sher Khan”. Karnal Sher’s father objected this name but Sher’s grandfather replied that Sher Khan would accomplish what he (Ghalib Khan) could not, and that he would become a Colonel in Pakistan Army. That is how Capt Karnal Sher Khan came to be called as “Karnal Sher Khan”
Owing to his martial instincts, he joined Pakistan Air Force as Airman in 1988, and was declared All Round Best Airman in his batch. After the basic training, he was posted to the School of Aeronautics at Korangi, Karachi for advance training where he was awarded with “Chief of Air Staff Trophy” for his outstanding performance. In February 1991, he was posted to Risalpur as electrical fitter.
His mind was not at ease, and had a growing inner desire to be where the action was. With a burning desire to become an officer and be a leader in action, he decided to join Pakistan Army. The Inter Services Selection Board rejected him in his first attempt. He, however, with his persistence made it in the second attempt, and was selected for commission with 90 PMA Long Course in October 1992. He was commissioned on October 24, 1994 and joined 27 Sindh Regiment. He is remembered by his colleagues to be cheerful, and was always smiling. He established a reputation of being a highly motivated and devoted soldier. He was fondly called as Shera (lion) and was very popular among officers and soldiers/colleagues.
Desirous of some real action and to get away from routine, he volunteered to serve at the Line of Control in Kashmir. His request was acceded to, and he was posted to 12 NLI Battalion in January 1998.
He was soon deputed to defend posts in Mashko Valley in the Gultary area of the Kargil Sector. While defending these posts, he repeatedly pushed back the Indians that were far superior in numbers and modern weaponry. He dealt a severe blow to attacking Indians particularly on 8 Sikh Infantry Battalion, that was not only stopped but pushed back. He even counterattacked the enemy during day as situation demanded. He wanted to defeat the enemy even if the cost was his life. It was a surprise attack for Indian Army, as they were not expecting it. Knowing the importance of his post, Karnal Sher was not only successful in forcing the enemy to retreat but also followed them to their base camp, and embraced shahadat in the process. He killed many Indian soldiers who became fearful of his attacks and ran away. He with his twenty one comrades moved with lightning speed, fighting closely, and was able to penetrate the battalion headquarters of 8 Sikh Regiment. During the close quarter battle, he lost most of his comrades, was surrounded and ordered to surrender but decided to continue attacking and fought till his last breath. He eventually embraced martyrdom while fighting.
Indian authors could not stop themselves from praising the ferocious counter-attack by Captain Karnal Sher Khan Shaheed, Nishan-e-Haider, and his men on their blocking position. Indian author Amarinder Singh in his book “A Ridge Too Far” appreciated this act of bravery as:
“At 0645 hours the next morning, the first counter attack by a weak platoon of twenty men came in; it was broken short of Helmet. Forty-five minutes later, the two “Sangars” (posts) manned by Naib Subedar Karnail Singh and Naib Subedar Rawail Singh holding the MMG and AGL on the forward edge of the perimeter of the Helmet defences, were both hit by the RPG rockets, killing both the JCOs. Havildar Sukhwant Singh took command and beat off the first attack. However, a much determined attack in greater strength and led by two officers was then launched. Having lost his two JCOs and suffered heavy casualties, Lieutenant withdrew to India Gate, as did Subedar Sardar Singh and his forward MMG detachment. The enemy pursued them as far as India Gate. There despite the sustained and heavy fire of Major Parmar and his men, they reached the edge of the defensive perimeter and did not falter until both of the officers had been killed. Of the two Pakistani Officers who led the attack, one, later identified as Captain Karnal Sher of 12 NLI... was awarded with Pakistan’s highest award for gallantry....” (A Ridge Too Far, Amarinder Singh, P 116)
After his shahadat when his body was recovered, a few Indian soldiers tried to maltreat his body, the Commanding Officer of 8 Sikh ordered them to step back, and treat him with honour as he fought bravely. His remains were later shifted in a honourable manner to Srinagar. He also stated that he should be rewarded with the highest gallantry award of Pakistan. His written citation by the Indian Commanding Officer makes not only him and his family proud but also Pakistan Army, and the Pakistani nation as a whole.
Havildar Lalak Jan Shaheed (April 1, 1967-July 7, 1999)
Havildar Lalak Jan was born in village Hundur of tehsil Yaseen, Ghizer in 1967. He received his early education from Government Middle School for Boys Hundur. Havildar Lalak Jan possessed a strong martial instinct since his childhood and to fulfill his desires, he joined Northern Light Infantry Regimental Centre as a recruit in 1984.
زیارت گاہِ اہلِ عزم و ہمت ہے لحد میری
کہ خاکِ راہ کو میں نے بتایا رازِ الوندی
(علامہ اقبال) 
جس دھج سے کوئی مقتل میں گیا، وہ شان سلامت رہتی ہے
یہ جان تو آنی جانی ہے، اس جاں کی تو کوئی بات نہیں
(فیض احمد فیض) 

نشان حیدر عزیزِ ملت
ہر ایک دل میں ہے تیری عزت
یہ مرتبہ ہے کہ تاقیامت
رہے گی زندہ تری حکایت
کہ تُو نے ہم کو حیات بخشی
رہ وطن میں شہید ہو کر
(حبیب جالب)
After successful completion of his one-year training at Bunji, he was posted to 12 NLI (Northern Light Infantry) Regiment in 1985. Havildar Lalak Jan was having smart military bearing and therefore, picked up for training as a part of special guards. Seeing his smart military bearing and disciplined conduct as special guard, Lalak Jan was included in the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Guard of 12 Division. He was later on selected to represent his battalion in Brigade commando platoon competition, where he secured the first position. In 1994, Havildar Lalak Jan was posted as weapon training instructor in (NLI) Regiment Training Centre Bunji. He remained Company Havildar Major of Jinnah Company and performed the duties of Special Guard Commander at Yadgar-e-Shuhada in the Regimental Centre. He was posted back to the unit in December 1997, and was appointed Company Havildar Major of Alpha Company.
In 1999 Kargil conflict, Havildar Lalak Jan was second-in-command of his post along Line of Control. During the course of war, Indian forces attacked his post many times. Havildar Lalak Jan was deployed ahead of his post as'screens' to give   early warning as well as inflict casualites on the enemy.
Havildar Lalak Jan along with his two men at the 'screens' was repulsing the Indian attacks with great valour, and was able to inflict heavy causalities on the Indians with his Light Machine Gun (LMG). On July 5 around 1700 hours, Lance Naik Bashir and Sepoy Bakhmal Shah embraced shahadat due to Indian sniper fire, yet Havildar Lalak Jan stood fast alone against the advancing enemy. Meanwhile intense enemy attacks and long fight resulted in shortage of ammunition and Havildar Lalak Jan went to the dead enemy soldiers and collected their weapons and ammunition, and started repulsing the Indian attacks with more valour and vigour. By 1830 hours, Havildar Lalak Jan received one bullet of enemy automatics but refused to vacate his position. Despite his injury he was manning all the firing bays around his position simultaneously in order to paint a false picture of own manpower to the Indians. Meanwhile, he received two more bullets during the combat, but kept the Indians at bay for five consecutive days despite being outnumbered. Miraculously, reinforcement from battalion headquarters under command of Captain Kashif Khalil and Captain Ahmad arrived at about 0400 hours on July 7, 1999 and the position was restored.
On seeing the condition of Lalak Jan, Captain Ahmed told him to go back to the base camp as his arm was in no condition to be used. Lalak Jan told his officer that he did not want to die on a hospital bed, but would rather die in the battlefield. He told him that he should not worry about the arm. While this was going on, the Indians started shelling from a secret bunker in an adjacent hill. By that time, Captain Ahmad had taken up the command of the handful of troops. He realised that the fire was coming from a hidden bunker and directed fire towards it, but the effort was in vain. There was only one way left to counter the hidden Indian bunker; it had to be blown up from a closer range.
When the injured Lalak Jan volunteered for the mission, the Captain, who was of the opinion that he would do it himself, immediately rejected his plea. However, Lalak Jan persuaded him, giving him his previous landmine laying experience coupled with his mountaineering skills as the qualifying conditions for his selection for the task. The Captain agreed.
Lalak Jan put a bag of explosives on his back, and while shouldering an AK-47 descended the hill for the second time amidst heavy Indian shelling. Managing to avoid being seen by the Indian forces, and utilising his knowledge of the hills to take cover, he located the secret bunker and threw the explosives inside. The bunker, which was also an ammunition dump, blew up in what was probably the biggest blast ever heard in that area. Lalak Jan managed to take cover, but the Indian Army lost 19 to 20 men inside and around the bunker. The other Indian soldiers saw Lalak Jan, and opened fire on him. Surrounded from all sides by Indian fire, Lalak Jan tried to resist and return fire. This effort was in vain, and Lalak Jan embraced shahadat when a number of bullets pierced through his chest. Later, Commanding Officer of 12 NLI sent two commando forces to recover the body of Lalak Jan. The two forces were called ‘Ababeel’ and ‘Uqaab’. Ababeel provided the covering fire while Uqaab went into the destroyed enemy bunker to retrieve the body of Lalak Jan. When his body was found, Lalak Jan had his AK-47 clinched to his chest.
The unflinching courage and bravery of Havildar Lalak Jan and his men at Qadir Post was also acknowledged by the enemy forces attacking Qadir Post in the following words:
“There were no wounded and no prisoners. Nor any man abandoned his position.  It has been most gallant defense action fought to the last man last bullet”.
The undaunted valour and courage displayed by Havildar Lalak Jan Shaheed wrote shinning pages of history, which will remain alive as a source of motivation for  generations in profession of soldiery.
“And do not think of those killed in Allah’s path as dead: indeed they are alive and receive their sustenance from their Lord.They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah.”
Surah Aal-e-Imran [ 3:169-170], Al-Quran


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