Punjabis were considered martial race by Britishers and were thought to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self-sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness hard work and fighting tenacity. The British recruited heavily from Punjabi Muslims for service in the colonial military. On the eve of World War II almost 34,000 Punjabi Muslims were in the Army (29 per cent) and during World War-II over 380,000 joined (about 14% of the total). No other class came close to these figures. Almost 70 pre cent of the wartime Muslim recruitment was from Punjab. The three semi-arid districts of Punjab i.e. Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Attock (Campbellpur) pre-dominated in supplying recruit volunteers in World War II.
Punjab Regiment History
The Punjab Regiment is the oldest, the largest and the most decorated Infantry Regiment of the Pakistan Army. The Regiment emerged in its present shape on 7 May 1956 by amalgamating the 1st, 14th 15th and 16th Punjab Regiment groups, each having six, four and five battalions respectively, all rich in traditions of their own. Four of our battalions have already celebrated their bicentenaries while some more are getting ready to do so in the near future.
This historical composition gave the Regiment a solid foundation to build on. During the 49 years of its united existence. It multiplied manifold and fought two National Wars. During 1948, some battalions also fought in Kashmir and others got the opportunity to see the War in 1965 and 1971. The Punjabi units acquitted themselves with great honour, devotion, courage and earned immense laurels.
The Regiment has the proud privilege of having produced soldiers like Captain Muhammad Sarwar Shaheed, Major Muhammad Tufail Shaheed, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed and Lance Naik Muhammad Mehfooz Shaheed. These Shaheeds are recipients of the Highest Gallantry Award of the land the “NISHAN -i- HAIDER”.
The Regiment has the unique distinction of winning the “CENTO NISHAN” Competition in Germany in 1975, the only time a non-European country won this competition during CENTO’s 15 years history. 4 Punjab, 6 Punjab, 14 Punjab, 17 Punjab, 18 Punjab, 19 Punjab, 22 Punjab and 31 Punjab Battalion have served United Nations Peace Keeping Force.
The Regiment has the unique distinction of producing two Commander-in-Chiefs of Army, Chief of Army Staff i.e Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, Npk, HJ, first Muslim Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army and General Asif Nawaz, NI (M), S-Bt and Bar.
The Regimental Hackle – Punjab Regiment
Through nearly two hundred years of exciting and arduous journey the battalions of the Punjab Regiment saw the birth, growth and fulfillment of the British rule. They took part in many wars that affected the destiny of millions and survived many changes of organization and destination. One thing above all a tradition of gallantry and loyalty remained a guiding light to the officers and men of the Regiment and shortly before partition as a token of recognition of the Regiment’s meritorious services, faithfulness and being senior in service of all the Corps and units of the old British Indian Army. The 1st Punjab Regiment Group was honoured by being granted a grass green feather hackle to be worn on the beret secured by the Regimental badge. This hackle, much prized by all ranks further cemented the bond between all 1st Punjabis. Later in February 1956, during the annual Commanding Officers Conference of the 1st Punjab Regiment Group held under FM Auchinleck and Major Geneneral Sher Ali, reorganization of the Punjab Regimental groups (1st Punjab Regiment, 14 Punjab Regiment, 15 Punjab Regiment and 16 Punjab Regiment) was finalized under instructions of General Headquarters. During the same conference, it was decided that personnel of all the Punjab Battalions would wear the hackle in future. The Pakistan Green Beret with the Regimental badge on a diamond-shaped Scarlet backing continue to be a distinctive feature of the Regimental head dress.