Malik Nur Khan

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Air Marshal
Malik Noor Khan
Noor khan.jpg
Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan, 1923–2011.
8th Governor of West Pakistan
In office
1 September 1969 – 1 February 1970
President General Yahya Khan
Prime Minister Noorul Amin
Vice President Noorul Amin
Preceded by Lt Gen Tikka Khan
Succeeded by Lt Gen Attikur Rahmann
6th Air Force Commander-in-Chief
In office
23 July 1965 – 31 August 1969
Preceded by Air Marshal Asghar Khan
Succeeded by Air Marshal Rahim Khan
Personal details
Born 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  India
Nationality British Subject (1923–1947)
Pakistani (1947–2011)
Political party None (Military Governorship)
Residence Air Headquarter (AHQ), Rawalpindi
Alma mater Indian Military Academy
Occupation Military administrator
Cabinet General Yahya Khan Administration
Religion Islam
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) General Khan
Allegiance  British India
 Pakistan (1947–1971)
Service/branch  Indian Air Force
 Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1941–1971
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg 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
Awards Hilal-e-Jurat

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 belonged to an 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[edit]

Royal Air Force[edit]

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] Nur Khan belonged to an Awan family and 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, Nur Khan 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[edit]

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 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[edit]

Pakistan International Airlines[edit]

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.

Sports Management[edit]

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. He was handed the reins of Pakistan Hockey Federation as its president in 1976.[12] Being a sports enthusiast, he not only ably facilitated the game at home for next 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.

In 1980, he was also brought in as President of Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP; currently known as Pakistan Cricket Board) to manage the disarrayed cricket affairs. In this capacity, he helped win the hosting rights for the 1987 Cricket World Cup with India. 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."[13]


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]


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


  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. ^ Omar Noman, Pride and Passion: An Exhilarating Half Century of Cricket in Pakistan, OUP, Karachi, 1998, p. 59.

External links[edit]

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