Karnal Sher Khan (1970–1999) was a Pakistan Army officer who is one of only ten recipients of Pakistan’s highest gallantry award, the Nishan-e-Haider. He was a Captain in the 27 Sindh Regiment of the Pakistan.
Captain Sher Khan was born in Naway Kiley (Shewa Adda), a village in Swabi District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. He was named by birth after the rank of Colonel; his name, Karnal, is a localised form of Colonel. Karnel Sher Khan’s home village of Naway Kiley (“New Village”) has now been named after him as Karnal Sher Kally (“Village of Karnal Sher Khan”).
Captain Sher Khan was the youngest of his two brothers and two sisters. His mother died in 1978 when he was eight. He was brought up by his paternal aunts. His family is deeply religious and they say that Sher was an embodiment of piety and Islamic teaching.
Education and career
After completing his intermediate schooling at the Government College Swabi, he joined the Pakistan Air Force as an airman. On completion of his training, he was appointed electric fitter (aeronautical) at Primary Flying Training Wing Risalpur. During these years he applied twice for commission in the Pakistan Army as a Commissioned Officer. He succeeded the second time. He joined the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, in November 1992 and graduated in the 90th Long Course in 1994. His first posting was at Okara in 27th Sindh Regiment. Always smiling as a devoted soldier, he was fondly called Shera (Lion) and was very popular among his officers and colleagues. In January 1998 he volunteered to serve at the LoC in Kashmir, he was posted in 12 NLI.
Captain Sher Khan was posthumously awarded Pakistan’s highest gallantry award, the Nishan-e-Haider, for his actions during the Kargil Conflict with India in 1999.
The following is the official statement by the Pakistan Army:
- “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 the machine-gun fire and embraced Shahadat or martyrdom at the same post. He is the first officer from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province to be awarded with Nishan-e-Haider.”
He counterattacked the enemy at Tiger Hill during day when enemy could easily see his movements. It was a surprise for Indian Army as they were not expecting any thing like that. It was considered as a suicide counterattack but being familiar with the positions of that post Karnal Sher was not only successful in forcing the enemy to retreat but also followed them to their base camp and got killed in the process.