ISLAMABAD: Three soldiers from Pakistan were among 175 men from overseas who won Britain’s highest military honour the Victoria Cross for service in the First World War.
Commemorative plaques for these brave men were unveiled as part of the British government’s First World War Centenary Programme. A total of eleven plaques were awarded to soldiers from pre-partition India and of them three trace their origins to present day Pakistan. The soldiers include Naik Shahmad Khan, Sepoy Khudadad Khan and Jemadar Mir Dast.
The 11 bronze memorial plaques, which were displayed to the public for the first time in London this week, are inscribed with the names of the Victoria Cross holders and will be sent to the recipients’ home countries and displayed at a prominent location as a symbol of the gratitude that is felt towards them by the people of the United Kingdom.
The plaque remembering the three Pakistani recipients of the Victoria Cross will be presented to the Government of Pakistan in Islamabad later this year.
Speaking about the event, Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said: “It is important to remember this was a truly global war, one which pulled in people from every corner of the earth. Sacrifices were made not only by people in the United Kingdom but by many millions across the world: whether it was the large proportion of Australian men who volunteered to fight in a war far from home, the 1.2 million troops from the Indian Subcontinent who took part in the war, or the essential support which came from the islands of the West Indies. It is truly inspiring that so many countries came together 100 years ago to uphold our way of life. This was a war which saw extraordinary courage and sacrifice from an entire generation.”
“This year, we are marking our gratitude to 175 men from 11 countries, including Pakistan, who demonstrated the utmost bravery “in the face of the enemy” during the First World War. These extraordinary men were awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for valour for their actions during the War. We shall honour them by engraving their names on bronze memorial plaques, to be presented to their home countries, sending out a powerful message that people of all backgrounds and faiths can unite in the name of a common cause.”
“I am determined that we ensure that people of all backgrounds and of all generations learn about the courage and heroism of their forefathers a hundred.”