Nasreddin Murat-Khan (1904-1970)

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Discover the man and his journey from his birthplace in Dagestan to his final home in Pakistan and his gift: the Minar-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Day Monument).

Nasreddin Murat-Khan
Born in Dagestan (then part of the Russian Empire) in 1904, Nasreddin Murat-Khan made Pakistan his final home in 1950. He contributed to the field of engineering and architecture in the Russian Federation, Germany and then Pakistan. Among his many contributions are the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Minar-e-Pakistan was designed by him and he oversaw the construction free of charge. It commemorates the passing of Lahore Resolution for separate state(s) in the Muslim majority areas of the Indian subcontinent. It was passed in 1940 at Minto Park in Lahore by the All India Muslim League during the British Raj amidst the anti-colonial struggle by Indians. This is where Minar-e-Pakistan now stands. This special exhibit is part of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan’s celebration of the Pakistan Day, March 23, the date the Resolution was passed, and it is dedicated to Nasreddin Murat-Khan and his family.

Early life in Dagestan (1904-1943)
Nasreddin Murat-Khan was born in 1904 in Buynaksk, Dagestan. Here, he is pictured (bottom right) with his friends (date unknown). 

Nasreddin Murat-Khan's family.

From left to right: His younger sister (standing); his father, Atloo Khan (standing); his mother (seated).

His father was an Imperial Russian Army officer.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan (right) and his younger brother Ibragim (left) at the beginning of 20th century.

The brothers attended secondary school in Buynaksk, Dagestan. Nasreddin enrolled there in 1911. His education was disrupted during 1917-18 due to the Russian Revolution. Therefore, he had to stay at school until 1920.

1923: Nasreddin Murat-Khan (right) with his friend in traditional Dagestani dress.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan's Membership Card of the Union of Soviet Architects of the USSR.
The surname is written as Murat-Khanov and it states that he had been a member since 1937. It seems that the card was issued circa 1940 (date unclear).

This was before he had to flee to Germany in 1943 due to political unrest in Stavropol, where he was working.

Life in Germany (1943-1949)
After fleeing from Stavropol, Nasreddin Murat-Khan ended up in a camp for displaced persons at Mittenwald, Germany operated by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). It is here that he met and married Hamida Akmut. She was a Turkish citizen of Pakistani and Austrian descent.

His foreigner's pass issued by the German Reich in Berlin. Since he was a refugee, this gave him an identity and freedom to move around.

25 April 1946: An employment certificate issued by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) team stating that he was an engineer at their Technical Office. This was whilst he was a refugee in Germany.

3 July 1947: A letter issued by the Displaced Persons Assembly Centre, Mittenwald, releasing Nasreddin Murat-Khan from the Refugee Camp. Simultaneously, it discharged him from his employment at the Camp. He had been working there as an engineer-architect and Deputy Chief of the Central Technical Office with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) team.

In this letter, Nasreddin Murat-Khan wrote to the 'Pakistan Mission', providing details about himself and his family in order to place an application to be able to move to Pakistan.

The next page of the document (not included in the exhibit) states that he had spoken to someone from the 'Pakistan Mission' earlier in this regard.

Final destination: Pakistan (1950-1970)
As his wife Hamida Akmut's father was a Pakistani, Nasreddin Murat-Khan and his wife chose to move to Lahore with their two daughters. In the summer of 1950, they took the Caledonia ship to Karachi and reached Lahore by train.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan, his wife Hamida Akmut and their daughters arriving at the Lahore Railway Station in 1950.

1950: Letter issued by the Security Office in Pakistan as part of the application for the acquisition of Pakistani nationality by Nasreddin Murat-Khan.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan was the son-in-law of Abdul-Hafiz who belonged to an influential family in Lahore. The document gives reference to this relationship and Nasreddin Murat-Khan's professional credentials for the application of Pakistani citizenship.

21 May 1954: A letter of oath by Nasreddin Murat-Khan stating the reasons for wanting a Pakistani nationality.

The letter states that having fled Caucasia and no longer having familial ties there, Nasreddin Murat-Khan sought Pakistan to be his home "in lieu of (his) lost home in Caucasia".

Minar-e-Pakistan: His gift to his final home
The monument known as Minar-e-Pakistan was erected at the site of the passing of Lahore Resolution. Lahore Resolution was passed on 23 March 1940 by the All India Muslim League at Minto Park, Lahore. It called for separate state(s) in the Muslim majority areas of the Indian subcontinent. This monument was designed by Nasreddin Murat-Khan, and he donated his architect's fee to its construction. The project started in 1959 and was completed in 1968.

25 May 1959: A letter addressed to Nasreddin Murat-Khan discussing the commencement of the construction of a Pakistan Day Memorial which later manifested as the Minar-e-Pakistan.

Previously, a design competition had been arranged by the Government of Pakistan calling for plans for a Pakistan Day Memorial. However, it was not successful and Nasreddin Murat-Khan took up this project.

Page 1: A document from Nasreddin Murat-Khan's desk elaborating the design concept behind the Pakistan Day Memorial at Minto Park, Lahore.

His architecture firm was called as 'Illeri H.N. Murat Khan and Associates'. "Illeri" is a Turkish word.

Page 2: A document from Nasreddin Murat-Khan's desk elaborating the design concept behind the Pakistan Day Memorial at Minto Park, Lahore.

Page 1 of a document summarizing the funding and expenditures for Minar-e-Pakistan. To raise part of the funds, a tax of 5 paisa was levied on cinema tickets and 50 paisa on race clubs tickets.

Salary details of the staff working full-time at the site of the Minar-e-Pakistan.

A document of the area and costs of the Minar-e-Pakistan.

Models of a Monument
Nasreddin Murat-Khan presented three models for the Monument. A popular myth suggests that Ayub Khan, the then President of Pakistan placed a pen on the table and asked Nasreddin Murat-Khan to construct a structure resembling the pen standing on the table.  

This is a sketch of one of the proposed models.

This is another of the three proposed models for the Pakistan Day Memorial.

The third model was selected, and it is this monument that is known today as the Minar-e-Pakistan and stands in Iqbal Park, formerly known as Minto Park, Lahore.

In the model, the top had a point to signify the never ending growth of the country. However, it was changed to a dome by the committee to bring it closer to Islamic architecture.

The construction of Minar-e-Pakistan
Minar-e-Pakistan under construction.

Before the text of the Pakistan Resolution was painted on the Minar-e-Pakistan.

After the text of the Pakistan Resolution was painted on the Minar-e-Pakistan.

During the construction of the Minar-e-Pakistan, Nasreddin Murat-Khan would visit the site regularly and personally inspect the materials and pace of work.

A photo from 1964 or 1965: Meral Murat-Khan, one of the daughters of Nasreddin Murat-Khan looking at the pools under construction next to the Minar-e-Pakistan. She was around 8 years old at the time and she and her sisters would often accompany their father to the site of construction.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan was awarded the President's Pride of Performance Award, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in 1963. This was awarded for his contribution to the architecture in Pakistan, chiefly designing and building the iconic Minar-e-Pakistan. This is the highest civilian award in Pakistan.

The President's Pride of Performance Award, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz awarded to Nasreddin Murat-Khan by the Government of Pakistan in 1963.

1968: In this letter, Nasreddin Murat-Khan requests that the official records about the Minar-e-Pakistan reflect the fact that he donated his architect's fee to the Minar. He further requests that if such is not possible, then the funds be released to him so they could be contributed to a charity.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan with his daughters, with the completed Minar-e-Pakistan in the background.

The legacy of Nasreddin Murat-Khan
Nasreddin Murat-Khan not only designed the iconic Minar-e-Pakistan, his work also includes the Nishtar Medical College, Fortress Stadium, Qaddafi Stadium, and various Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) flats and housing colonies.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan, his wife Hamida Akmut and their five daughters at home in Lahore, Pakistan.

Nasreddin Murat-Khan refused to accept payment for constructing the Minar-e-Pakistan. It was a gift from him to the country that gave him his final home. His contributions to architecture in Pakistan live on in the Minar-e-Pakistan, which remains an icon of his legacy.

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan thanks Meral Murat-Khan for donating the material used in this exhibit.

Credits: Story

Courtesy of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan. All Rights, Titles, Interests including Copyrights of whatever kind belong with The Citizens Archive of Pakistan.

All material in this exhibit is donated by the daughter of Nasreddin Murat-Khan, Meral Murat-Khan to The Citizens Archive of Pakistan for its Oral History Project.

Created by Kiran Sohail Azeemi
Edited by Saba Halepota

Collection Team:
Arhum Malik
Faizan Saeed (Scanning)
Hafsa Shah
Sanayah Malik
Sultan Ali

Special thanks to:
Meral Murat-Khan

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