Northern Light Infantry
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|Northern Light Infantry|
|Active||1998 - present|
|Regimental Centre||Bunji, Pakistan|
|Engagements||Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
Pak-Indo War 1965
Pak-Indo War 1971
|Colonel Commandant of the NLI Regiment||Lt Gen Ikram-Ul-Haq (AK)|
The Northern Light Infantry (reporting name: NLI) is a light infantry regiment in the Pakistan Army, based and currently headquartered in Gilgit, the capital of Gilgit–Baltistan. Along with many unified armed forces presence in the Northern Areas, the NLI has the primary ground operations responsibility of protecting the strategically important northern areas of Pakistan.
History and Lineage
The origins and history of the NLI can be traced to the native Militia and Scouts units of yeoman infantry raised by the local rulers of Gilgit-Baltistan in the early 20th century, which were trained and funded by the British Indian Army. Later on, in 1924 the command and control of these militia and scouts units were taken over by the British Government and the officers were all seconded by the British Indian Army. The organisation and purpose of these units was the same as that of the other British led local paramilitary scouts and militias in mountainous frontier regions, such as the Zhob Militia, Chitral Scouts, Swat Levies, Cachar Levies, Eastern Frontier Rifles, Khyber Rifles, and Malakand Levies. The Gilgit Militia was the cousin unit of all these frontier borderguards-cum-local militia/scouts/paramilitary Police regiments. Their duties involved both conventional infantry scouting and skirmishing, as well as rural Policing and border guarding. In peace times these yeoman units usually acted as local Police and were analogous to the Armed Police of the British Indian provinces. In 1944, 2 of the Battalions' training and status was upgraded to that of Mountain Infantry.
Later on, in 1947, 1965 and 1971, after the Gilgit militias performed sterling loyal service in aid of the regular Pakistan Army, they were organised as a single unified regiment of 10 Battalions under the command of a Brigadier and were awarded with the designation and title of "Northern Light Infantry" to reflect their new and improved conventional military Light Infantry capabilities. However they were still constitutionally a paramilitary force of Pakistan, at par with Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Corps, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior and commanded by regular Pakistan Army officers. In 1967 and 1970, two Battalions of the NLI were airlifted and deployed to Sindh and Karachi for internal security duties, riot control and aid of civil authority during election related violence. This earned them a commendation from Field Marshal Ayub Khan.
By 1998 the NLI consisted of 20 Battalions commanded by a Major General of the Pakistan Army with the designation of Inspector General of the NLI, whose office was the Inspectorate General of NLI reporting to the GOC, X Corps as well as the Minister of Interior. Only after the 1999 Kargil War and in recognition of their single-handed role in the battles, the regiment amalgamated into the Infantry Corps of the Pakistan Army with the status of a regular infantry regiment, awarded the Presidential Colours, so that from then onwards the other ranks and JCOs of the regiment could draw pay and perks equal to that of their regular Army peers.