Nishan-e-Haider (abbreviated as “NH”) is Pakistan‘s highest military gallantry award. “Nishan-e-Haider” literally means “Mark of the Lion” in the Urdu language. The word “Haider” is also the epithet of Hazrat Ali. The Nishan-e-Haider can only be awarded posthumously to members of the Pakistan Armed Forces for sacrificing their life in an act of extraordinary bravery in face of the enemy. Although some consider it equivalent of the British Victoria Cross and the United States Medal of Honor, however, it has no equivalent since the Nishan-e-Haider is unique in that it can only be awarded posthumously. Its exclusivity can be gauged by the fact that, since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, there have been only ten recipients.
The Nishan-e-Haider was established by the Government of Pakistan on 16 March 1957, in the year when Pakistan became a republic. However, it was applied retrospectively from the date of Pakistan’s independence on 14 August 1947. The Nishan-e-Haider is Pakistan’s highest award and takes precedence over all military and civil awards. Of the ten Nishan-e-Haider recipients till date, nine have been from the Pakistan Army and one from the Pakistan Air Force.
The Nishan-e-Haider can be awarded posthumously to all ranks of the Pakistan Armed Forces for sacrificing their lives in acts of extraordinary courage in face of the enemy. As a matter of practice and precedent, it has only been awarded posthumously in circumstances where it has been established that a member of the Pakistan Armed Forces acted with extraordinary bravery and courage in face of the enemy notwithstanding the realization of a high risk to his life and, consequentially, sacrificed his life in the act.
The Nishan-e-Haider is manufactured by the Pakistan Mint on order of the Ministry of Defence, Government of Pakistan. It is forged from captured enemy equipment and consists of 88% copper, 10% tin and 2% zinc.
Only ten Nishan-e-Haider medals have been awarded since Pakistan’s independence on 14 August 1947, nine to members of the Pakistan Army and one to a member of the Pakistan Air Force. Below is the list of Nishan-e-Haider recipients.