In the tapestry of Pakistan’s history, the surname “Khan” emerges as a thread intricately woven with tales of remarkable contributions and profound impacts. Over the years, individuals bearing this revered name have risen to prominence, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s journey towards progress. As we delve into the annals of Pakistan’s heritage, this exploration embarks on a captivating odyssey, shedding light on a carefully chosen array of figures who, as if driven by destiny, have steered the nation’s course across various domains. From the realms of arts and sciences to politics and beyond, the “Khans” have etched their names onto the tapestry of Pakistan’s advancement, standing as enduring beacons of inspiration for generations to come. Read on as we traverse the corridors of history to uncover the stories of these illustrious figures, each a testament to the boundless potential of human endeavour.
Khans in the world of sports
Khans as the Kings of Squash
Khan’s squash supremacy traces back to 1951 with Hashim Khan, who showcased remarkable endurance and speed. Hashim secured numerous titles globally, including Scottish, Australian, and American championships, setting an unparalleled record. His younger brother, Azam Khan, continued the legacy by triumphing over Americans in 1956. Mohibullah and Roshan Khan further solidified their dominance. In the 1970s, Mohibullah reached World No. 2 status. Hashim’s son, Sharif, reigned over the US Open hardball event for 12 consecutive years from 1969 to 1981. Jehangir Khan, Roshan’s son, clinched the US Open thrice and a record ten consecutive British Open titles from 1982 to 1991. With a combined total of 23 British Open, 26 US Open, and 6 World Open titles, the Khan family is heralded as Pakistan’s squash pioneers. Their unwavering dedication remains a source of pride for Pakistan.
For many years the name Khan had been synonymous with success in the game of squash. However, Jansher Khan did not emerge from a squash-playing dynasty. During his career, he won the World Open eight times, and the British Open six times. From 1990 until 1996, he remained unbeaten in 81 matches for six consecutive years.
As one of cricket’s finest all-rounders, he attained the pinnacle of his career by clinching the 1992 World Cup, later earning a spot in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. In 1991, he established the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, a charitable organisation named after his mother, Mrs. Shaukat Khanum. Diving into the realm of politics, he established a political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) back in 1996. He stands uniquely as one of the five cricketers worldwide to ascend to power, assuming the mantle of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Shahid Khan Afridi
Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi is a former Pakistani cricketer and ex-captain of the national team. An all-rounder, Afridi was a right-handed leg-spinner and batsman. In just his second ODI against Sri Lanka in 1996, he smashed a 37-ball century. His record held as the fastest century in ODIs for over 17 years until Corey Anderson surpassed it in January 2014. Afridi excelled in limited-overs, often making impactful contributions.
Mohammad Junaid Khan
Mohammad Junaid Khan is a Pakistani international cricketer renowned for his left-arm fast bowling prowess. He stood out as part of a promising generation of young fast bowlers in recent times, sharing the limelight with fellow talent Mohammad Amir.
A remarkable spin talent, teenage leg spinner Shadab Khan surged into cricket’s spotlight in the 2016/17 PSL. His knack for wicket-taking with a superb economy rate labeled him an exciting Pakistani prospect. He serves as vice-captain for Pakistan in limited-overs cricket, leads Islamabad United in the PSL. As an all-rounder, Khan reigns as Pakistan’s most accomplished T20I bowler.
Khans in military and political arenas
Aga Khan III (1877-1957)
Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III was one of the founders and the first permanent president of the All-India Muslim League (AIML). His goal was the advancement of Muslim agendas and protection of Muslim rights in British India.
Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Bacha Khan, and respectfully referred to as Fakhr-e-Afghan, was a Pashtun independence activist and the founder of the Khudai Khidmatgar resistance movement against British colonial rule in India. He passed away on January 20, 1988, at the age of 97, in Peshawar. As per his wishes, he was laid to rest at his residence in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Liaquat Ali Khan
Liaquat Ali Khan was one of the leading founding fathers of modern Pakistan. He was a statesman, lawyer, and political theorist. He held the distinction of being Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, in addition to serving as the first Defence Minister and Minister of Commonwealth and Kashmir Affairs, from 1947 until his assassination in 1951. During his tenure, Pakistan embarked on constitution-making, culminating in the passage of the Objectives Resolution in 1949, which laid the ideological bedrock for the nascent nation.
Khan Abdul Wali Khan
Khan Abdul Wali Khan was a Pakistani democratic socialist politician who served as president of the Awami National Party. Son of the prominent Pashtun nationalist leader, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Wali Khan was an activist and a writer against the British Raj like his father.
In a military coup, Ayub Khan, commander-in-chief of the Pakistani Army, ascended to become Pakistan’s second president. His administration focused on consolidating power and laying the foundation for future stability by reshaping economic, legal, and constitutional institutions. He eventually stepped down from the presidency in 1969.
Mohammad Yahya Khan was a Pakistani military officer who held the position of the third president of Pakistan from 1969 to 1971. Additionally, he served as the commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army from 1966 to 1971.
Captain Sher Khan
Karnal Sher Khan was a Pakistan Army military officer, distinguished as one of only eleven recipients of the Nishan-e-Haider. Initially, a captain in the 27th Sindh Regiment, he later served in the 12th NLI Regiment during the Kargil Conflict. He embraced shahadat by courageously fighting with his adversaries in the Kargil War. His bravery was even acknowledged by his enemies who saw him fighting bravely till his last breath.
Khans in science
Dr Shaukat Hameed Khan
Dr Shaukat Hameed Khan is another recognisable figure that took the field of science in Pakistan by storm. Born in Lahore, he received his BSc with honours in Physics from Punjab University and went on to acquire further education from Oxford University where he was awarded DPhil in Nuclear Physics 1968. Khan developed the first solar cooler which led him to gain Pride of Performance Award by the government of General Zia-ul-Haq.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was a famous Pakistani nuclear scientist and a metallurgical engineer. He is widely regarded as the founder of gas-centrifuge enrichment technology for Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent program. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program is a source of extreme national pride. AQ Khan headed Pakistan’s nuclear program almost for 25 years, and considered a national hero.
Munir Ahmad Khan
Munir Ahmad Khan was a Pakistani nuclear reactor physicist who is credited, among others, with being the “father of the atomic bomb program” of Pakistan for their leading role in developing their nation’s nuclear weapons during the successive years after the war with India in 1971.
Saadeqa Khan, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the digital science magazine, is a freelance science journalist based in Quetta. She is the winner of the National Science Award 2019 for her beautiful Urdu translation of The Grand Design, a critically acclaimed work of late physicist Stephen Hawking. She’s a member of the American Science Writers Association (NASW), and a fellow of National Press Foundation Washington.
Khans in art and film
Asif Ali Khan was born in 1947 in Nowshera, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan. He is a film actor renowned for his contributions to Urdu, Pashto, and Punjabi movies spanning from the 1970s to the 2010s. His noteworthy films encompass “Ajab Khan Afridi” (1971), “Tezab” (2015), “Darra Khaibar” (1971), “Shaani” (1989), “Sargent” (1977), and “Chief Sahib” (1996). Over his extensive 50-year career, he earned two Nigar Awards
Reema Khan stands as one of the preeminent, talented, successful, and captivating actresses in the Pakistani film industry. Her reign spanned several decades, leaving an indelible mark. Among her acclaimed works are ‘Bulandi’, ‘Zameen Aasman’, ‘Jo Darr Gya Woh Marr Gya’, ‘Munda Bigra Jae’, ‘Love 95’, ‘Umar Mukhtar’, ‘Nikah’, ‘Mujhe Chand Chahiye’, ‘Pehchaan’, ‘Fire’, ‘Shararat’, ‘Koi Tujh Sa Kahaan’, ‘One Two Ka One’, and ‘Love Mein Gum’. Khan was a leading figure in Pakistani cinema during the 1990s.
Ustaad Salamat Ali Khan
Salamat Ali is a renowned Pakistani classical vocalist hailing from the Sham Chorasi gharana. He is esteemed for imparting the art of classical music to over 1000 disciples within and beyond Pakistan.
Ustaad Amanat Ali Khan
Amanat Ali Khan was born in the ‘Patiala Gharana’ of Sham Chorasi, Hoshiarpur, Punjab. Alongside his brother Ustad Bare Fateh Ali Khan, young Amanat Ali commenced singing for gatherings (‘mehfils’) and swiftly gained recognition in the court of the Patiala king. His notable songs encompass “Aa Mere Pyaar Ki Khushboo,” “Yeh Arzoo Thi,” “Mausam Badla,” “Yeh Na Thi Hamari Qismat,” “Hoton Pay Kabhe,” “Insha Je Utho,” and “Kab Aao Ge.” Ustad Amanat Ali passed away at the age of 52 in Lahore on September 17, 1974. His son, Ustad Asad Amanat Ali Khan, inherited his father’s melodious voice and talent. Following a successful music career, Asad Amanat Ali tragically succumbed to a heart attack on April 8, 2007, in London.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
The late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is one of the key artists on Real World Records and certainly one of the most influential. His voice is universally recognised as one of the great voices in musical history and he played a pivotal role in introducing the Qawwali music tradition to the Western world.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a renowned singer, specialising primarily in qawwali, a profound form of Sufi devotional music. Khan holds a distinguished position as one of the nation’s most prominent and highly compensated vocalists. He carries forward a rich legacy as the nephew of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the son of Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, and the grandson of the esteemed Qawwali singer Fateh Ali Khan.
Fawad Khan is a versatile artist, encompassing roles as a film and television actor, singer, and model. He has garnered critical and commercial acclaim not only within Pakistan’s entertainment industry but also across the Indian border. Khan’s breakthrough came with the 2007 Pakistani movie “Khuda Kay Liye.” He further gained prominence as the lead in TV shows “Humsafar” and “Zindagi Gulzar Hai,” winning Best Actor Awards at the Lux Style Awards. In 2014, his Bollywood debut in the romantic comedy “Khoobsurat” earned him a Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. His recent triumph includes the Bollywood blockbuster “Kapoor and Sons!”
Mahira Khan, often hailed as Pakistan’s premier superstar, has garnered adoration and accolades for her diverse roles since her acting debut in 2011. Her breakthrough came with the lead role in the Pakistani drama ‘Humsafar’. Subsequently, Mahira has taken on pivotal roles in the nation’s most beloved TV dramas and films, including ‘Humsafar’, ‘Shehrezaat’, ‘Sadqay Tumhare’, ‘Bin Roye’, ‘Ho Mann Jahan’, and ‘Verna’. With three Pakistani box office hits under her belt, Mahira achieved a significant milestone by starring opposite Bollywood icon Shahrukh Khan in the Hindi film ‘Raees’ in 2017. This groundbreaking feat marked an unprecedented achievement for Pakistani actors, as no actor before her had debuted in Bollywood alongside any of the three Khans of Hindi cinema.
Ahsan Khan is a highly acclaimed Pakistani television and film actor, as well as a skilled producer and host. With numerous hit serials to his credit, such as “Udaari” (2016), “Meray Qatil Meray Dildar” (2012), and “Fraud” (2022), Ahsan Khan has left his mark on the film industry with his super hit serials. His acting journey began at the age of 17 in 1998 with the award-winning film “Nikah,” a remake of the 1977 classic “Aina,” exploring the dynamics of two distinct social classes. In 2000, Ahsan starred in the action film “Ghar Kab Aao Gay,” followed by a notable appearance in the comedy thriller “Chupan Chupai” alongside Neelam Muneer as Babu in 2017.
Imran Khan is a Dutch-Pakistani singer, songwriter. Khan sings in Punjabi and English. He first reached stardom in 2007 after the release of his first single “Ni Nachleh”. Khan was signed to Prestige Records in late 2007, and released the single “Ni Nachleh” on the label.
Junaid Khan is a multifaceted artist, encompassing roles as an actor, producer, and singer-songwriter. Since the early 2000s, he has served as the lead vocalist for the Lahore-based rock band Call, contributing to the success of albums like “Jilawatan” and “Dhoom.”
In his acting career, Junaid is celebrated for his compelling performances in series such as “Sun Yaara” (2017), “Ishq Tamasha” (2018), and “Yaariyan” (2019). His portrayal of the sophisticated Dr Talal Sikandar in the 2017 hit drama “Sun Yaara” propelled him into the limelight.
A prominent figure in the Pakistani entertainment industry, Feroze Khan is an actor and model known for his remarkable performance. He initiated his acting journey with “Bikhra Mera Naseeb” in 2014, portraying the character Harib, and achieved a breakthrough role as Adeel in Hum TV’s romantic drama “Gul-e-Rana” in 2015. Khan’s profile expanded significantly when he depicted Mir Hadi in the series “Khaani” during 2017-18.
Renowned for her elegance, Sarah Khan is a prominent Pakistani actress. She captured the spotlight through her portrayal of Farisa in a romantic series “Alvida” (2015). Sarah continued to make her mark by taking on lead roles in dramas such as “Mohabbat Aag Si,” “Tumhare Hain,” “Nazr-e-Bad,” “Belapur Ki Dayan” (2018), and “Band Khirkiyan” (2018). Her exceptional performances in “Raqs-e-Bismil” (2020) and “Laapata” (2021) garnered further acclaim.
Bilal Khan is a Pakistani musician, actor, and YouTuber. He released his debut album Umeed in 2009. Khan also acted in the Hum TV drama Sammi (2017) in which he played the role of Aliyaan, Sammi was also his debut drama. He has acted in Hum TV’s hit drama serial Khamoshi (2017-2018) as Shahram in the main lead alongside Zara Noor Abbas, Affan Waheed and Iqra Aziz.
Sara Raza Khan
Commencing her musical journey at a very tender age, Sara Raza Khan, a Pakistani vocalist, initially showcased her talent as a child participant in the PTV music competition “Bright Star.” Subsequently, she embarked on her professional music career by taking part in “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009.” Notably, she stood out as the sole female representative from Pakistan in the Pak-India collaborative musical show “Sur Kshetra,” in which numerous Pakistani boys also participated.
Emerging as a notable figure, Aiman Khan is a Pakistani TV actress. Her acting journey commenced in 2013 with her role in ARY Digital’s drama “Meri Beti,” leading to subsequent appearances in various serials. Khan garnered acclaim for her portrayals of Mashal, the female lead in “Khaali Haath,” and Shafaq in “Ghar Titli Ka Par.” Her latest role was that of Meeru in “Baandi” in 2018.
In the realm of Pakistani television, Minal Khan stands as an accomplished actress. Commencing her journey as a child artist in “Kaash Main Teri Beti Na Hoti,” she has since graced various television serials, including “Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewah,” “Sun Yaara,” “Hum Sab Ajeeb Se Hain,” “Parchayee,” “Ki Jaana Main Kaun,” “Hasad,” “Jalan,” and “Ishq Hai.”
Ayeza Khan is a distinguished Pakistani actress and model, predominantly active in Urdu television. Khan’s illustrious career boasts a remarkable body of work spanning over 30 shows, highlighted by her significant contributions to hit dramas such as “Pyarey Afzal,” “Koi Chand Rakh,” and “Chupke Chupke.”
Ahmed Khan - Calligraphic artist
Ahmed Khan’s radiant art reimagines traditional line and form, blending calligraphic designs through a unique process. Years of expert manipulation of chemicals and silver foil birthed captivating pieces. A 1963 NCA Distinction graduate and later lecturer, Khan excelled in printmaking. His work graces esteemed national and global collections. Pioneering 3D canvas elements earned him the 1984 Pakistan National Arts Award and 1987 Top Honors at the First Lahore Art Biennale. The 1996 Shakir Ali Award followed, and he persists in his Lahore studio.
This is merely the tip of the iceberg, as the Khans have seamlessly woven themselves into every prominent sector in Pakistan. Time and again, they have emerged as pioneers, propelling Pakistan to global recognition.
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