Civilian Awards in Pakistan

Editorial Desk

The 23rd of March does not only the mark the day that the Pakistan Resolution was passed but also marks the day in which the government of Pakistan distributes its civilian awards to all those who have been nominated to receive them.

Awards with respect to arts, music and contributions to the general societal benefit of Pakistan are included in the award distribution ceremony.

How are they selected?

Different ministries and their divisions are tasked to recommend possible candidates to the Cabinet Division. The names of the received candidates are reviewed by three different committees before being sent to the President for the final approval. The announcements are made on Independence Day and the awards are given out on Pakistan Day.

The different civil decorations

The orders of these civil awards consists of the following:

  • The Order of Pakistan – Pakistan
  • The Order of Bravery – Shujaat
  • The Order of Excellence – Imtiaz
  • The Order of Leadership – Quaid-e-Azam
  • The Order of Service – Khidmat

The awards are further categorized between the following:

  • Nishaan
  • Hilal
  • Sitara
  • Tamgha

With Nishaan being the highest honor and Tamgha being the lowest.

Order of Pakistan

These awards were established in 1957. This field is highly restricted, and the award is only conferred to members of the international community, other foreign relations and Pakistanis who have contributed their whole lives for the creation of a better Pakistan. However, these awards are mostly reserved for foreign nationals and they are usually the recipients.


The highest and most prestigious civil award that can be given to any civilian for the highest degree of service to the country.

Notable Recipients: Queen Elizabeth the second, Xi Jinping, Mohammad bin Salman.


The award stands in the second position in the hierarchy of the civilian awards and is given to people with outstanding service to Pakistan.

Notable Recipients: Ruth Pfau, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Joe Biden.


 This civilian award stands as the third most prestigious civilian award.

Notable recipients: Dr. Abdus Salam, Sadiq Khan.


This award, accordingly, is the fourth highest civilian award.

Notable Recipients: Sartaj Aziz, Neeraj Harish Bhanot.

Order of Shujaat

These are awards that are given by the government of Pakistan for both military and civilian acts of “conspicuous gallantry”, which are not always in the face of the enemy.


This is the highest civilian honor for both military and civilian acts of gallantry.

Notable Recipients: Malik Muhammad Saad Khan, Safwat Ghayur


The second highest award for both civilian and military acts of gallantry.

Notable Recipients: Aitzaz Hasan

Order of Imtiaz

These awards for civilians are based on their achievements based on world recognition for Pakistan or for an outstanding service to the country. The contributions can be in the form of arts, music, literature, etc. It is not limited to civilians, and so, can also be given to military personnel. This is equivalent to the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States.


This is a state organized civil decoration and the most prestigious of the category.

Notable Recipients: Asma Jahangir, Sherry Rehman, Pervez Musharraf


The second highest award for the contributions towards the national interests of Pakistan.

Notable Recipients: Abida Parveen, Zia Mohyeddin, Jansher Khan


The third highest award under the same line of contributions to Pakistani interests.

Notable Recipients: Sarfraz Ahmed, Zia Chishti, Shahzad Roy


The fourth highest award given to any civilian based on their contributions towards Pakistani interests.

Notable Recipients: Mehwish Hayat, Noor Jehan, Atif Aslam

Order of Quaid-e-Azam

These are awards given to recipients for their unparalleled support for public service. Notably, these are awards for selfless devotion to human rights. Notable recipients include Ruth Pfau who received both the Sitara-e-Quaid e Azam and the Nishaan-e-Quaid e Azam and Otto von Habsburg who received the Tamgha-e-Quaid e Azam.

Order of Khidmat

These are civilian awards for their service to the country. This award can also be given to the civil armed forces.

Notable Recipients: Zia-ul-Haq, Zahirul Islam Abbasi

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