Sawar Khan

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Sawar Khan
NI(M)  HI(M)  SBt
سوار خان
1st Vice Chief of Army Staff
In office
1 May 1980 – 23 March 1984
PresidentMuhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Succeeded byGeneral Khalid Mahmud Arif
Personal details
Sawar Khan

(1924-12-01)1 December 1924
Rawalpindi District, Punjab Province, British India
DiedNovember 2023(2023-11-00) (aged 98)
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Resting placeRawalpindi, Pakistan
SpouseKhadijah Bano
Residence(s)Westridge 1 Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Alma materOfficers' Training School (Bangalore, India)
Military service
AllegianceBritish Raj British India (1946–47)
Pakistan Pakistan (1947–84)
Branch/serviceBritish Raj British Indian Army
Pakistan Pakistan Army
Years of service1946–1984
Rank General
Awards Nishan-i-Imtiaz
Order of Military Merit
Post-Retirement WorkCommunity Service President Northern University, Nowshera Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa

General Sawar Khan NI(M)  HI(M)  SBt (Urdu: سوار خان; 1 December 1924 – November 2023) was a four-star general of the Pakistan Army who was the Governor of the largest province, Punjab and the Vice Chief of Army Staff during the era of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, when Zia was simultaneously the Chief of Army Staff (Pakistan) and the President of Pakistan.

Khan died in November 2023, at the age of 99.[1]

Early life and military career[edit]

Sawar Khan was born in Rawalpindi District, British Raj on 1 December 1924.[1] He was commissioned before the independence of Pakistan in 1947 into the Indian Army's Corps of Artillery. He later opted for Pakistan Army in 1947. As a captain, Sawar became the Instructor Gunnery (IG) at the Artillery School.[2]

General officer[edit]

Khan was promoted to Lt. General on 24 March 1976 by General Zia-ul-Haq after he became the Chief of Army Staff superseding five other generals. Sawar Khan who at the time was serving as Adjutant General (AG) at the GHQ was sent as the Commander XI Corps, Peshawar, where he replaced the recently superseded Lt. Gen. Majeed Malik.[3] He continued to serve in Peshawar until January 1978 when he was replaced by Lt. Gen. Fazle Haq.[4] In 1978, Lt. Gen. Sawar Khan moved to Lahore to take over IV Corps as its Corps Commander. He took over from Lt. Gen. Iqbal Khan who proceeded as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VOAS), a newly created post.

Martial law administrator of Punjab[edit]

When Zia imposed martial law, the then Lt. Gen. Sawar Khan was sent as the governor of Punjab province in 1978, in addition to his responsibilities as Commander IV Corps, Lahore. He was part of small coterie of generals under General Zia ul-Haq, who determined the national security policies in the martial regime. The other generals were Lt. Gen. Faiz Ali Chishti (Commander X Corps, Rawalpindi), Lt. Gen. Jehanzeb Arbab (Governor of Sindh and Commander V Corps, Karachi), Lt. Gen. Iqbal Khan (CJCSC), and the other military governors of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Fazle Haq and Rahimuddin Khan.[5]

After a two-year stint, he was replaced by Lt. Gen. Ghulam Jilani Khan and promoted to four-star general.



Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Awarded by the Sovereign, on the advice of the Government
EligibilityPakistani or Foreign citizen
Awarded forThe highest degree of service to the state, and for services to international diplomacy.
StatusCurrently constituted
SovereignPresident of Pakistan
SovereignPrime minister of Pakistan
  • 5 grade: Star (1st Class)
  • Badge (Second Class)
  • Ribbon (military only)
  • Collar Chain (4th class)
  • Medal (5th Class)[6]
First induction19 March 1957
Next (higher)None
Next (lower)Hilal-e-Imtiaz

Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Civilian)

Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military)

Vice Chief of Army Staff[edit]

In March 1980, when the post of the deputy chief of army staff (created by Zia-ul-Haq) was redefined and re-designated as the Vice Chief of Army Staff, General Sawar replaced Lt. Gen. Iqbal Khan. General Sawar was replaced by the Zia's deputy General Khalid Mahmud Arif in March 1984 after completing the four-year term. Sawar was a professional soldier and hailed from the Potohar plateau of north Punjab, which had been a traditional recruitment area for the British and the Pakistani armies.[7]

Awards and decorations[edit]



(Order of Excellence)



(Crescent of Excellence)


(Star of Good Conduct)

Sitara-e-Harb 1971 War

(War Star 1971)

Tamgha-e-Jang 1965 War

(War Medal 1965)

Tamgha-e-Jang 1971 War

(War Medal 1971)

Pakistan Tamgha

(Pakistan Medal)


Tamgha-e-Sad Saala Jashan-e-


(100th Birth Anniversary of

Muhammad Ali Jinnah)


(Republic Commemoration Medal)


Hijri Tamgha

(Hijri Medal)


Order of Military Merit

Grand Cordon


War Medal


India Service Medal


Queen Elizabeth II

Coronation Medal


Foreign Decorations[edit]

Foreign Awards
 Jordan The Order of Military Merit (Grand Cordon)
 UK War Medal 1939-1945
India Service Medal 1939–1945
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal


  1. ^ a b "General Sawar Khan dies at 99". 24 Digital. 8 November 2023. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  2. ^ EAS Bokhari "Late Lt Gen SM Abbasi" Defence Journal, April 2002
  3. ^ A.H. Amin "Remembering Our Warriors: Maj Gen (Retd) Tajammal Hussain Malik" Defence Journal, September 2001
  4. ^ Rahimullah Yusufzai. "Change of Guard at Peshawar's 11th Corps" The News, 10 May 2001
  5. ^ Rizwan Hussain. "Pakistan and the Emergence of Islamic Militancy in Afghanistan" Ashgate Publishing, 2005, ISBN 0-7546-4434-0
  6. ^ Note: It is usually given all together. Only Military officers from Pakistan Defence Forces are awarded the ribbon which is attached to their respected uniform
  7. ^ Pakistan under Zia, 1977-1988 By Shahid Javed Burki Asian Survey, Vol. 28, No. 10 (Oct., 1988), pp. 1082–1100

See also[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Punjab
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Vice Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by