Nishan-e-Haider is the highest military award of Pakistan awarded to those military men who have shown exceptional acts of bravery during a battle or when the integrity of the country was in jeopardy. It is conferred posthumously and so far only 10 brave men have received it. Out of these ten; nine are from Pakistan Army and one is from the Air Force. Nishan-e-Haider is made from the gun metal surrendered by the enemy.
The first recipient of this highest military order was Captain Muhammad Sarwar Shaheed who laid down his life defending the country in the Kashmir war of 1948.
Major Muhammad Tufail Shaheed was also awarded the Nishan-e-Haider for his heroism though not in a battlefield. He attacked an illegally setup post at night along with his men; though fatally wounded; he continued to command his men and succeeded in driving out the enemy.
Aziz Bhatti was another brave major of the Pakistan Army who embraced martyrdom during the 1965 war while resisting every move of the enemy. He was awarded Nishan-e-Haider for his exceptional valor.
Major Muhammad Akram Shaheed received Nishan-e-Haider for his courage and bravery during the 1971 war with India. He bravely commanded his men till his death.
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas is the only recipient of Nishan-e-Haider who belongs to the Air Force. During a test flight, his plane was hijacked by his Bengali instructor. Rashid Minhas on realizing his intentions informed the control tower and interfered with the control of the planes causing it to crash.
Major Shabbir Sharif Shaheed was one of the bravest majors of the Pakistan Army. His acts of valor and military acumen earned him the highest military award even the enemy acknowledged his bravery calling him “a fine soldier”.
Sawar Muhammad Hussain Shaheed was a jawan (foot soldier) in the Pakistan Army who was awarded Nishan-e-Haider for his extraordinary acts of bravery during the 1971 war. He destroyed sixteen enemy tanks before coming under direct fire of enemy’s machine guns.
Lance Naik Muhammad Mahfuz Shaheed was another recipient who was awarded Nishan-e-Haider for his heroics in the battle of 1971 between India and Pakistan. He entered the enemy bunker and destroyed it.
Nishan-e-Haider was conferred on Captain Karnal Sher Khan Shaheed for his courageous deeds during the 1999 Kargil War. Even the Indian Army acknowledged his bravery and it is said that this award was given on the recommendation of the Indian Army.
Havaldar Lalak Jan Shaheed embraced martyrdom in the line of duty during the 1999 Kargil War. He requested the authorities to deploy him on the front position from where he bravely thwarted the enemy advances. He was the last recipient of this prestigious award.
Major Shabbir Sharif (April 28, 1943 – December 7, 1971) was a Pakistani Army officer who embraced martyrdom at Western front during the 1971 Indo-Pak. Shabbir Sharif was born in Kunjah town of District Gujrat. He did O-Levels from St. Anthony’s High School, Lahore. He joined Government College, Lahore for further studies but he received call to join Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul before he could complete his studies. Sharif had an outstanding stay at the military academy and was given the prestigious ‘Sword of Honor’ on passing out. He was commissioned in Pakistan Army on April 19, 1964 and was posted to 6th Battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment (FF).
Shabbir Sharif participated in the 1965 Indo-Pak war as a young Lieutenant. He led many successful assaults on Indian forces. During the war, he got injured and was admitted in the Military Hospital but he escaped to rejoin his unit. He was later awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat for his bravery. In 1971, Pakistan Army decided to launch an offensive on the Western front to ease pressure on its forces fighting in the Eastern Front in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Sharif by then had rose to the rank of Major by then. Major Shabbir Sharif was ordered to capture and attack an important linking bridge called ‘Gurmakhera Bridge’. Major Sharif and his troops carried out a successful assault despite of being outnumbered by Indian troops. In one of the fights with Indian troops, he engaged his counterpart Major Naryan Singh of 4 Jat in a man-to-man battle and was successful in killing him. But in the process his right shoulder was badly burnt. Another offensive was launched by Indian Army to eliminate Major Sharif’s troops on December 6, 1971. He kept leading his troops from the front despite of heaving injuries. On the morning of December 6, 1971 heaving shelling started from Indian tanks. One of the shells landed near Major Shabbir Sharif throwing him and other troops in air. He embraced martyrdom few seconds later after falling on ground. His lasts words were “don’t lose the bridge’.
Major Shabbir Sharif was buried in his hometown with full military honors. He was posthumously awarded ‘Nishan-e-Haider’. He is the only person who has been awarded both highest gallantry awards; Sitara-e-Jurat and Nishan-e-Haider which makes him the highest decorated soldier of Pakistan Armed Forces.
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas Shaheed – Nishan e Haider (February 17, 1951 – August 20, 1971) was a pilot in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict. Rashid Minhas was born in the Minhas clan of Rajputs in Karachi on February 17, 1951. He spent his early childhood in Lahore and Rawalpindi. He had his early education from the famous Rawalpindi school St. Mary’s Cambridge School. He did his intermediate studies from St. Patrick’s High School in Karachi. He later joined Karachi University to study Aviation history and military history.
Later, Rashid Minhas joined Pakistan Air Force and was commissioned on March 31, 1971. He stood 3rd in his course and was awarded the prestigious ‘Sword of Honor’. After commissioning, Rashid Minhas was deployed at Karachi with the Pakistan Defence Force’s Lead Aerial Warfare branch. On August 20, 1971 when he was ready to take off his T-33 trainer plane, his Bengali instructor Flight Lietutant Matiur Rahman approached his plane and knocked out Minhas to steal the plane to India. Pilot Officer Rashid regained consciousness in midflight and released that his instructor plans to steal the plane to India. He informed PAF Masroor about the scenario. While his plane was 40 KMs away from India border, he crashed it to avoid being captured in India.
Rashid Minhas was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider. He is the only person from Pakistan Air Force to receive this award. He is also the youngest person to receive this award. PAF base Masroor has been named after him. He always used to write in his diary, “We cannot live forever then why don’t we sacrifice ourselves on our dear homeland, yes it is an easy job”.
Major Raja Aziz Bhatti (1928 – September 11, 1965) was a Pakistani Army officer who embraced martyrdom during the Indo-Pak war of 1965. Major Aziz Bhatti was born to a Muslim Rajput family in Hong Kong, his family moved to Pakistan before its independence in 1947. Major Aziz Bhatti’s father Abdullah Bhatti was a school master. Major Aziz Bhatti joined Pakistan Army in 1948. He had excellent student career in the then newly built Pakistan Military Academy, Abbotabad; he was awarded Sword of Honor and Norman Medal by the Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. After passing out in 1950, Major Aziz Bhatti was commisned in Punjab Regiment. During his career of 15 years in the army; Major Bhatti served at various command and staff appointments of the Pakistan Army.
Major Aziz Bhatti was appointed as the Company Commander of a Punjab regiment before the outbreak of war between India and Pakistan in 1965. As the tensions escalated between the two countries, forces were ordered to get themselves prepared for any eventuality. Major Aziz Bhatti was given the command of Burki sector of Lahore. He laid a perfect model of defensive tactics and used every available thing for it. After the start of war Major Aziz Bhatti decided to stay with his forward troops instead of going back to Command post. He led his troops and did not sleep for almost three days. He and his men defend the strategically important BRB canal against enemy attacks for five days and nights despite of repeated attacks by Indian army.
In order to see every moment of Indian forces, Major Aziz Bhatti kept himself on elevated positions. He directed accurate fire to artillery which resulted in heavy loss of men and tanks to Indian forces. He kept leading his men from the front despite of heavy artillery fire from enemy positions. On September 11 as he was directing artillery fire he was hit by an enemy tank shell in the chest and embraced martyrdom.
He was buried in his village Ladian, Gujrat. He left 6 children and a wife. He later awarded Nishan-e-Haider for the supreme sacrifice offered by him. He is the only recipient of Nishan-e-Haider from the 1965 Indo-Pak War.
Captain Raja Muhammad Sarwar Khan Bhatti (1910 – July 27, 1948) is the first recipient of Nishan-e-Haider. Sarwar Khan was born in Singhori village, Tehsil Gujar Khan, District Rawalpindi. Born in Rajput family, Captain Sarwar went to join Indian Military in 1942 and was commissioned in the Punjab Regiment of Indian Army in 1944. After independence of Pakistan in 1947, Captain Sarwar Khan was transferred to Pakistan Army.
Soon after the partition of sub-continent, tensions raised between India and Pakistan over the disputed area of Kashmir. Indian troops landed in Kashmir and took control of Kashmir. Flared by anger, patriotism and love for their Kashmiri brothers, Pakistan Army was ordered to intervene on the order of the then Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah. During the early days of Kashmir war, Captain Sarwar Khan was busy in doing a course at a military school in Murre. He requested to be deployed with his parent unit which was fighting with Indians at the Uri sector but his requests were turn down. After repeated requests he was finally sent back to join his unit.
After joining his unit at Uri sector, Captain Sarwar Khan was appointed as the Company Commander of the 2nd battalion. He led successful attacks on Indian army inflicting heavy damages to the enemy. On the fateful night of July 28, 1948, Captain Sarwar Khan launched an attack on the strongly fortified position of enemy at the Uri sector. Enemy responded with heavy machine gun and mortar fire but he and his men made their way through barbed wire barrier which was hindering their movement. In this process, Captain Muhammad Sarwar Khan received a burst of heavy machine gun in his fire and lost his life.
Captain Muhammad Sarwar Khan was posthumously awarded Nishan e Haider for the bravery shown by him
Major Tufail Muhammed Shaheed (1914 – August 7, 1958) was born in Hoshiarpur, Punjab (India). In 1943, Tufail Muhammed got commissioned in the 16 Punjab Regiment of Indian Army. After the independence of Pakistan, Tufail Muhammed was transferred to Pakistan Army. During his distinguished career he served at various command and staff appointments in the Army.
In 1958, Major Tufail Muhammed was posted to East Pakistan as the Company Commander of a battalion of East Pakistan Rifles (a Para military force for border security). During his command, Indian troops violating international borders captured a village in the area of Laskhmipur of East Pakistan. On August 7, 1958 Major Tufail launched an assault to force withdrawal of Indian troops from the village; He divided his men in to three groups and attacked Indian troops during the dark hours of August 7th. Their groups was able to reach enemy without being detected but as the firefight started, the group came under heavy fire and Major Tufail received three bullets in his stomach. Despite being shot in stomach, he kept moving and was able to silence the incoming fire from machine gun. By tactically using grenades, Major Tufail was able to destroy key enemy posts. When he saw enemy commander inflicting heavy casualties to his men he crawled towards enemy posting and engaged enemy in hand-to-hand battle which resulted in killing of commander of the Indian Army. He killed him by hitting him his steel helmet on the face. He continued the operation with his men which resulted in withdrawal of Indian forces. Despite being heavily injured, he called his junior officer “I have completed my duty; the enemy is on the run.” He was rushed to hospital but he embraced shahadat.
Major Muhammed Tufail was buried with full mitialry honors in his native city Burewala. His native town has been named after him and is now known as Tufailabad. Major Muhammed Tufail was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider and he is the only person to get this award for an action outside the Indo-Pak wars.
Lieutenant Syed Yaser Abbas Shaheed (July 22, 1987 – May 22, 2011) was an aeronautical engineer of Pakistan Navy. He completed his basic education from famous Pakistani school, Army Public School & Colleges System. He joined Pakistan Navy in 2005 and embraced martyrdom on May 24, 2011 during attack on PNS Mehran. His name has been recommended for Nishan-e-Haider (Pakistan’s highest award for valor). He will be the first person from Pakistan Navy to receive this award.
Yaser was born in a Pakistani army family; his maternal grandfather and father was Colonel in the Medical branch of Pakistan Army. Yaser had three sisters. After doing intermediate from famous Pakistani college Garrison Degree College, Lahore Cantt Yaser appeared for Pakistan Air Force but he was rejected citing eye problem. He was offered education abroad by his father but he refused and appeared for entry in Pakistan Navy. He was selected for 67th CAE/EC course of Aeronautical engineering at College of Aeronautical Engineering, Pakistan Airforce Academy. After graduating from PAF academy, Lt. Yaser was posted at PNS Mehran of Pakistan Navy.
Lt. Yaser was the duty officer and incharge of Quick Reaction Force on the night of May 22, 2011 when terrorists attacked PNS Mehran. On hearing sounds of blasts he rushed to check it but was stopped by Navy guards from going their but without caring for his life and he endangered his life and went to check. He was attacked by terrorists attacking the base but Lt. Yaser kept his ground and engaged terrorists for almost half an hour. During this he received 3 bullets (1 in heart and 2 in abdomen). He was taken to PNS Rahat but embraced martyrdom in operation theatre. He was buried in his native city Lahore on May 23, 2011. Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gilani has recommend Nishan-e-Haider for the gallantry shown by the young officer of Pakistan Navy.