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Malik Nur Khan

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Malik Nur Khan

Air Marshal
Malik Noor Khan
Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan, 1923–2011
6th Air Force Commander-in-Chief
In office
23 July 1965 – 31 August 1969
President General Yahya Khan
Prime Minister Noorul Amin
Preceded by Air Marshal Asghar Khan
Succeeded by Air Marshal Rahim Khan
8th Governor of West Pakistan
In office
1 September 1969 – 1 February 1970
Vice President Noorul Amin
Preceded by Lt Gen Tikka Khan
Succeeded by Lt Gen Attikur Rahmann
Personal details

Malik Noor Khan
(1923-02-02)2 February 1923
Chakwal, British Punjab,

British Indian Empire, (now Pakistan) , Family Awan.[1]
Died 15 December 2011(2011-12-15) (aged 88)[2][3]
Rawalpindi, Pakistan[4]
Citizenship  Pakistan
Nationality British Indian Empire (1923–1947)
Pakistani (1947–2011)
Political party None (Military Governorship)
Residence Air Headquarters (AHQ), Rawalpindi
Alma mater Indian Military Academy
Occupation Military administrator
Cabinet General Yahya Khan Administration
Religion Islam
Awards Hilal-e-Jurat
Civil Administrator Managing Director, Pakistan International Airlines (1959–1965)
Chairman, Pakistan International Airlines (1973–)
President, Pakistan Hockey Federation (1976–1984)
President, Pakistan Cricket Board (1980–1984)
Military service
Nickname(s) AM Khan
Allegiance  British India
 Pakistan (1947–1971)
Service/branch  Indian Air Force
 Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1941–1971
Rank Air Marshal (Lieutenant General)
Unit No. 11 Squadron Arrows
Commands Chaklala Air Base
Pakistan Air Force Academy
Assistant Chief (Air Operations)
Peshawar Air Base
Masroor Air Base
No.1 Tactical Operations Group
Pakistan International Airlines
Commander-in-Chief Pakistan Air Force
Battles/wars World war II (Burmese air operations)
Indo-Pakistan war of 1947
Indo-Pakistan war of 1965
Indo-Pakistan war of 1971

Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan (Urdu: نور خان‎, commonly known as Nur Khan (Urdu: ملک نور خان ‎; ‎ 22 February 1923 – 15 December 2011) HS, HQA, SPk HJ, was a high-profile military official who represented the Pakistan Air Force as its Commander-in-Chief.[5] He belongs from the Malik-Awan family of the Potohar Plateau Punjab.[1] He was a veteran of the 1965 air war as the air chief who led a smaller but better trained and equipped Pakistan Air Force to achieve parity over the Indian Air Force (which was three times the PAF's strength in numbers) from the very first day of the 1965 war. He is widely respected, not only for his integrity but also for his sharp intelligence and outstanding management abilities that largely benefited the Pakistan's military.[3] He was also known to turn around Pakistan International Airlines into a profitable and recognized entity[6][7]

Following his retirement from the PAF, he was appointed by the military government as the Governor of West Pakistan in 1969[3] but soon resigned in 1970, after mounting serious disagreements with the military government and was finally forced out of the military government by president General Yahya Khan in 1971. In 1976, he joined hands with then-Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who appointed him as President of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF); and in 1980, he became Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after General Zia-ul-Haq requested him to take control of the country's cricket administration. He presided over both the Hockey Federation and Cricket Board until 1984, leading the Pakistani hockey team to a gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympics.[2][8] In 1985, Nur Khan participated in 1985 parliamentary elections for a technocratic seat and also contested on Pakistan Peoples Party's platform on 1988 parliamentary elections but conceded his defeat that eventually led to end his short political-technocratic career once and for all.[9]


  • Military career 1
    • Royal Indian Air Force 1.1
    • Emergence with Pakistan Air Force 1.2
  • Civilian Administration and Politics 2
    • Pakistan International Airlines 2.1
  • Sports Management 3
    • Hockey 3.1
    • Cricket 3.2
    • Squash 3.3
  • Politics 4
    • Commemoration 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Military career

Royal Indian Air Force

Malik Nur Khan was born on 22 February 1923, in a small village (called "Dandi") in the Tamman range of Talagang District of Punjab British state, British Indian Empire.[3] He completed his early education from Col. Brown Cambridge School , Dehra Dun. Nur Khan was sent to attend Aitchison College and graduated with a science diploma. Soon after, he applied for the Royal Indian Military and attended the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College at Dehra Dun where he gained a B.A. in Military administration. On 6 January 1941, Nur Khan was commissioned into the Royal Indian Air Force in No. 1 Squadron[10] where he was sent to participate in the Burma Campaign 1942 where he flew bombing and combat air missions. In 1946, Nur Khan was elevated to a role as the Flight Commander of No. 4 Squadron of the RIAF which he commanded until 1947.[3]

In 1947, after the establishment of Pakistan, he opted for Pakistan's citizenship and was transferred to the newly formed Pakistan Air Force. Between 1950–62, Nur Khan commanded the newly formed Pakistan Air Force Academy and then held various key appointments including command of Chaklala, Peshawar and Mauripur bases and, as an Air Commodore, of No. 1 Group at Peshawar. He also did a stint at the Air Headquarters as the Assistant Chief of Air Staff (operations).

Emergence with Pakistan Air Force

In 1959, following a series of mishaps in the country’s airlines, Air Marshal Nur Khan was deputed to head the amalgamated Pakistan Airlines Corporation where he remained till taking over from Air Marshal Asghar Khan in July 65. During that period, he made a name for his airline as a safe and reliable organisation, and for himself as a forward-thinking dynamic go-getter. It was not surprising therefore that he was named as Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s successor; he was then 42 years old.

Nur Khan was also part of the Pakistani contingent that clashed with the Israeli Air Force during the Six Day War. In fact, the President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, who was also the Commander of the Israeli Air Force and the Minister of Defense of Israel, wrote in his autobiography that: "He was a formidable fellow and I was glad that he was Pakistani and not Egyptian".[9][11]

Nur Khan was an Air Chief Marshal of Pakistan Air Force, Governor of West Pakistan and the Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines.

Air Marshal (retd) Malik Nur Khan, the veteran of the 1965 Pak-India war, who later served as the Governor of West Pakistan died on Thursday at Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Rawalpindi after protracted illness. Nur Khan was also part of the Pakistani contingent that clashed with the Israeli Air Force during the Six Day War (Arab Israel war 1967).[3][9][11] .

Civilian Administration and Politics

Pakistan International Airlines

In 1960, PIA's very first jetliner (a Boeing 707-321 leased from Pan Am) took a gentle turn under the command of Malik Nur Khan. Nur Khan was PIA's Chairman from 1959 to 1965.[3] His success in establishing PIA on a firm and profitable financial basis in six years is now a fact of airline history. Under his charismatic and inspirational leadership, PIA became one of the leading and respected airlines of the world. During his tenure, PIA became the first Asian airline to operate jet aircraft. The airline inducted modern Boeing 720 B jet in its fleet. PIA started flying to China and flights to Europe via Moscow were also launched during this period. In 1973, Nur Khan was specially requested by the government of Pakistan to resume control of PIA. During his second term as airline's head, PIA became operator of wide-body DC-10s and Boeing 747s. Popular Green & Gold aircraft livery was introduced, plus many more achievements were made by the airline under Nur Khan's leadership. He kept PIA out of Pakistan's turbulent political arena and returned it to a sound commercial basis. Nur Khan was a dynamic leader and believed in innovation and new ideas. He served as minister of Communications, Health, Labour and Science and Technology in Yahya Khan's cabinet.

On 20 January 1978, a PIA plane (while at Karachi) carrying 22 passengers was hijacked by a gunman and asked to be flown to India. The then chairman of PIA, Air Marshal (Retd) Nur Khan boarded the plane to negotiate with the hijacker. He was hit by a bullet while trying to disarm the hijacker but still managed to overpower him.

Sports Management

Nur Khan was gifted with administration skills. After the halcyon days of management at Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), he made a show of his talents in sports administration. Nur Khan, who at one time headed national sports bodies of Hockey, Cricket and Squash, enabled Pakistan to reach the top in all these games.


Nur Khan was handed the reins of Pakistan Hockey Federation as its president in 1976[12] and was President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation during 1967 - 1969, and 1976 - 1984. During his Presidency, The Pakistan Hockey Federation won 2 Olympic Gold Medals (1968 Mexico & 1984 Los Angeles), 2 Hockey World Cups (1978 & 1982) and 2 Hockey Champions Trophy (1978 & 1980.[13] Being a sports enthusiast, he not only ably facilitated the game at home for eight years. but also played an iconic role in international hockey arena. Conception of Champions Trophy, an annual hockey tournament, was his brain child that was realised in 1978 by his endeavours.

On his personal initiative, the FIH introduced the World Cup Tournament and the Champions Trophy Tournament, which are now rated amongst the major international tournaments, alongside the Olympics.

Being President Pakistan Hockey Federation, he donated World Cup Trophy and Champions Trophy to the International Hockey Federation. During his tenure Pakistan hockey team performed a grand-slam. The World Cup and Champions Trophy are the toughest events in Hockey.[13]

He made valuable and tremendous contributions in Hockey in Pakistan. During his first tenure (1967-1969) that Pakistan hockey team won the Mexico Olympics and in second tenure (1976-1986) Pakistani team won Los Angeles Olympics.[14]


In 1980, he was also brought in as President of Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP; currently known as

Military offices
Preceded by
Asghar Khan
Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Air Force
Succeeded by
Abdul Rahim Khan
Political offices
Preceded by
Tikka Khan
Governor of West Pakistan
Succeeded by
Attiqur Rahman
  • Thumbnail sketch Blog by Najam Khan at PAF Wallpapers
  • Nur Khan in front of a T-37 (A picture at
  • Nur Khan in a F-86 cockpit (A picture at
  • Nur Khan in a F-104 cockpit (A picture at
  • Obituary, ESPNcricinfo
  • Obituary, website (
  • Obituary, NewsPakistan.Pk (

External links

  1. ^ a b c Khan,R., 1999, The American Papers: Secret and Confidential India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Documents, 1965-1973, Oxford University Press, p.265.
  2. ^ a b Obituary, daily The Nation
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Obituary, daily the Tribune
  4. ^ Obituary, daily the Dawn
  5. ^ Obituary, daily The News
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ A tribute to Nur Khan, daily the Dawn
  9. ^ a b c Obituary, daily the Pakistan Today
  10. ^ PAF's Chief of the Air Staffs, a thumbnail sketch, PAF Falcons website
  11. ^ a b Ezer Weizman, On Eagles' Wings: The Personal Story of the Leading Commander of the Israeli Air Force. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1977 (Weizman was former Air Force chief and President of Israel.)
  12. ^ Presidents of Pakistan Hockey Federation PHF official website
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Omar Noman, Pride and Passion: An Exhilarating Half Century of Cricket in Pakistan, OUP, Karachi, 1998, p. 59.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b


In commemoration of his services rendered to Pakistan Air Force, PAF Base Chaklala was renamed as PAF Base Nur Khan in 2012.


In 1985 he leapt into politics and was elected member of National Assembly,He contested in 1988 election on a PPP ticket from NA 44 Chakwal II but wasn’t successful. After defeat in the 1988 elections he decided to retire from politics and his cousin Malik Mumtaz Khan Tamman and Malik Allah Dad Awan began contesting elections from the same constituency(now NA-61).[3] Earlier, in August 1969, he was appointed as the Governor of West Pakistan.[1]


Nur Khan gave Squash players employment and free travel. He gave the Squash world an international circuit which reached the four corners of the world. He made Squash into a TV Sport, the Squash players became household names. He is definitely the best that could have happened to Pakistan sport.[19]

A marvellous PIA complex in Karachi was constructed in 1976. It was then the World's best and biggest. The First Pakistan Open Team and Open Championships for the Hashim Khan trophy, in 1976, was graced by the world's best and in the presence of Hashim Khan, Azam Khan, Roshan, and Mohibullah. Pakistan had become a major force in Squash, organisationally and competitively.[19]

In 1975, on Nur Khan’s request, legendary Azam Khan, four-time winner of British Open (1959–62), who was running a squash club in England, prepared Qamar Zaman and Mohibullah Junior for the British Open. Qamar Zaman brought back the title to Pakistan after 12 years. He gave the Squash World Jahangir Khan, a pure PIA colts product who became the greatest squash player of all time. Pakistan Open initiated in 1980 became a prestigious tournament and the country also hosted World Open.[18]

From 1951 to 1963, Pakistanis achieved remarkable success in Squash winning the most coveted title, the British Open, all those thirteen years. Thereafter, it was a barren period. Any Pakistani failed to land the title over the next decade except one Aftab Javaid who managed to reach the final. Nur Khan took over the charge of Pakistan International Airlines for the second time in 1973. He immediately took revolutionary steps. He initiated the PIA Colts scheme. Young promising boys were spotted and given a monthly stipend. They were coached and sent to participate in international tournaments with PIA bearing the travel expenses. Whosoever performed well on the international circuit was given permanent employment in PIA. The incentives didn’t end there. If any of the players achieved some major success in prime events, he was rewarded with a departmental promotion. All this led to a surfeit of world class Pakistani players in the 70s: Qamar Zaman, Gogi Allauddin, Hiddy Jahan, Mo Khan Junior and others. There used to be six to seven Pakistanis among the top 10 in the world rankings.[17]


He introduced the idea of neutral umpires in cricket

Omar Noman, in his history of cricket in Pakistan, said: "Nur Khan was an exceptional administrator. He did not know much about cricket, but his efficiency and vision had a positive effect on the development of hockey, squash, and cricket."[16]


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