The reason we celebrate Independence Day every year on 14th August is because of these 10 heroes of Pakistan, whose bravery and extraordinary courage was the reason Pakistan still stands today and is proud of its existence.
These heroes sacrificed the most important thing that all of us hold so dear: their life! These 10 recipients of Nishan-e-Haider, the highest military award in Pakistan, often known as the equivalent of the United States Medal Of Honor, acted with extraordinary bravery and courage in the face of the enemy.
1. Raja Mohammad Sarwar Shaheed
Raja Mohammad Sarwar belonged to a Rajput family in Singhori Village, Tehsil Gujar Khan and was appointed caption in the newly formed Pakistan army. He volunteered to take part in the battalion organized by the Pakistan army for retaking Kashmir. With his extraordinary valor, the Indian army was forced to retreat from the areas that are now known as the Northern areas of Pakistan.
He was the company commander of the 2nd battalion during Kashmir operations and launched an attack against a strongly fortified enemy position. As he and his men moved forward to cut their way through a barbed wire, he was shot in the chest by a heavy machine gun. And thus, sacrificed his life for his home soil.
2. Major Tufail Mohammad Shareef
Major Tufail was the only man to have received the Nishan-e-Haider outside the Indo-Pak wars. He was posted to East Pakistan in 1958 as Company Commander of a battalion of East Pakistan Rifles. During his command, the Indian army took control of a village in East Pakistan and to force withdrawal, he launched an attack. In spite of being shot in the stomach, he kept fighting instead of going for treatment and ended up being victorious. He was rushed to the hospital but died the same day.
3. Major Aziz Bhatti Shaheed
It was the likes of Major Aziz Bhatti that Pakistan won the 1965 Pak-Indo war. Major Aziz Bhatti was a staff officer and was a Company Commander in the Burki area of the Lahore Sector. He chose to move his platoon forward even under constant firing from the Indian army. For five days and night, he fought incessantly and placed himself in an elevated position so he could keep an eye on the moves of his enemy. He led his army from the front throughout those five days relentlessly fighting against the enemy. He was sent word by the commanding officer to take some rest and recall from fighting but he replied “Do not recall me. I don’t want to go back. I will shed the last drop of my blood in the defence of my dear homeland”. Hence, he was martyred being shot in the chest by the Indian army.
4. Rashid Minhas Shaheed
Rashid Minhas is the youngest person to have received the Nishan-e-Haider. He is also the shortest serving officer and the only person in the Pakistan Air Force to have received this award. He joined the air force in 1971 and was commissioned in the 51st GDP course. On August 20 1971, he took off in a T-33 jet trainer for his second solo flight in an aircraft of this type. However, as he was taxiing, he was stopped by a flight instructor, Matiur Rahman who climbed into the instructor’s seat. However, Rahman had ill intentions and the flight took off toward India. Minhas sent a message that he was hijacked. Rahman wanted to take the jet toward India to join his compatriots in the Bangladesh Liberation War. However, Rashid Minhas forced the aircraft to crash near Thatta to prevent Rahman from taking the jet to India.
5. Shabbir Sharif Shaheed
Rana Shabbir Sharif was the older brother of General Raheel Sharif, the present Chief of Army Staff in Pakistan. He was also the nephew of Major Aziz Bhatti, another holder of Nishan-e-Haider. Known as the Superman of the Pakistani Army, he was the only man in the history of Pak Army who was given Nishan-e-Award for not any specific act but for his inspiring performance throughout the war until he died. He was the commander in Chief and leading his men in 1971 war, he captured the Gurmakhera Bridge and the Saboona Ridge, both of which gave Pakistan a crucial advantage in the war. During the war, he came out of the Pakistani trenches on Narayan Singh’s challenge for a man to man fight and wrestled him down to the ground. For an even thorough account and the intriguing story of Shabbir Sharif, click here.
6. Mohammad Hussain Janjua Shaheed
Mohammad Hussain Janjua was the first Jawan (a rank of foot soldier in Pakistan Army) to have been awarded Nishan-e-Haider. He joined the Pak Army as a driver but always had the desire to take part in active battle. He finally got the chance in 1971 battle and performed relentlessly, taking extremely hazardous missions, not caring about his life at all. He delivered ammunition from one trench to the other despite continuous enemy shelling and firing. On 10th December he spotted the enemy digging in along the minefield. He informed the second-in-command of his unit but on his initiative, he directed accurate fire at the enemy resulting in the destruction of sixteen enemy tanks. And while directing fire, he was hit in the chest by a burst of machine gun fire and embraced Shahadat.
7. Major Akram Shaheed
Akram showed exemplary performance in the 1965 and 1971 war. He was a Major during the 1971 war and it was because of valor, bravery, and courage that he was able to repulse the enemy during the Battle of Hilli despite of them being out numbered. He fought ruthlessly for five days and nights without any break eventually sacrificing his life.
8. Mohammad Mahfuz Shaheed
Mohammad Mahfuz was a Pakistani soldier who was the operator of a light machine gun in “A” Company of the regiment. He fought with unrelenting courage and bravery, despite being armed with only a machine gun and left the enemies stumped. After a fire caused from automatic weapons, his machine gun was destroyed. Injured in the leg and unarmed, he single handedly attacked the enemy bunkers and strangled one of the soldiers, at the same time getting shot by another enemy soldier, hence embracing martyrdom.
After the war, an Indian Commander commented, “I have fought many wars but the way I saw that soldier fighting with immense courage and enthusiasm, was new to me. He has showed such a high level of enthusiasm and zeal that we are all in admiration of his performance.”
9. Colonel Sher Khan Shaheed
Sher Khan was the first man from Khyber Pakhtunkhwan Region to have been awarded the Nishan-e-Haider. During the Kargil Conflict, he not only counterattacked the enemy forcing them to retreat but also followed them to their base camps, bracing shahadat in the process.
The government’s statement says, “”Captain Karnal Sher Khan emerged as the symbol of mettle and courage during the Kargil conflict on the Line of Control (LoC). He set personal examples of bravery and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. He defended the five strategic posts, which he established with his Jawan‘s at the height of some 17,000 feet at Gultary, and repulsed many Indian attacks. After many abortive attempts, the enemy on July 5 ringed the post of Capt. Sher Khan with the help of two battalion and unleashed heavy Mortar firing and managed to capture some part of the post. Despite facing all odds, he led a counter-attack and tried to re-capture the lost parts. But during the course he was hit by machine-gun fire and embraced Shahadat or martyrdom at the same post.”
10. Lalak Jan Shaheed
Lalak Jan is the most recent recipient of the Nishan-e-Haider. He was a Havaldar and was performing his duties at the headquarters when it was announced that the enemy is preparing a major attack. He wanted to fight from the forward position and so, was sent to battle ground, which was much feared by the enemies. He was a man of courage who fought courageously throughout, repulsing many enemy attacks, inflicting heavy casualties to the enemies and eventually forcing them to retreat, all the while fighting till the last drop of blood and embracing shahadat in the end. During the war he was shot in the chest but he did not die for another three hours during which he fought relentlessly, defeating the enemies in return.
Didn’t this all inspire you? Did it move you to tears? This is what it takes to keep our country standing on its ground! Remember these sacrifices as you celebrate Independence Day today.