Defence Day & our responsibilities
THE resilient Pakistani nation celebrates Defence Day on 06 September, each year with new and enhanced dynamism and fervour.
On this day, the great Pakistani nation pays tribute to the martyrs of 1965 war and those who laid their lives for the defence of the motherland.
The military formations and services headquarters organize ceremonies paying rich tribute to the national heroes, especially those who lost their lives while combating and countering Indian aggression against Pakistan along international border as well as all along the ceasefire line.
In the history of Pakistan, this day is significant because of the unmatched defence of Pakistan, rendered by its defence forces and masses starting from 06 September 1965, once India suddenly attacked Pakistan without any early warning with ulterior motives of undoing it.
The national level celebration of the Defence Day aims at remembering and recalling the brave soldiers of the September War, paying rich tribute to the martyrs of this war, infuse the spirit of sacrifice among Pakistani youth and simulate the picture of future battlefield.
Indeed, the future battlefield is intractable, intricate and imperceptible hence requires prudence and lot of mental appreciation to be the victor.
Going into history, ‘it was 06 September 1965, once Indian Army launched its offensive against Pakistan while crossing the international border without any warning and formal declaration of war.
This Indian attack was in ‘utter violation of international law, Charter of the United Nations and norms of civilized behaviour among nation states’. Indeed, India arrogantly swept aside her international commitments in her desire to subjugate the region.
This Indian aggression towards the regional countries and even outside the region is a continual process.
Indeed, Indian leadership of that time considered Pakistan as a tiny state with very small sized defence forces, thus can be defeated by gigantic military might of India. But, things proved otherwise once the defence forces of Pakistan repulsed its offensive in all sectors with a befitting response.
As per the memories of General (Retd) Sardar FS Lodi, on September 6, 1965, ‘Indian attack on Lahore was held and beaten back with heavy losses to Indian Army.
The Pakistan Army units defending on the ground, supported by the Pakistan Air Force were able to blunt the Indian offensive and roll it back’.
After meeting the humiliating defeat at Lahore Sector on 08 September 1965, India launched its main attack against Sialkot using its armoured division and other strike formations. It was the biggest tank battle since World War-II.
In fact, ‘It was a hard and bitter struggle fought over many days and night’s resulting in casualties on both sides. Finally, the main attack by India was repulsed with heavy losses to its armour formations and hundreds of soldiers and officers.
South of Lahore, Pakistan launched its own counter attack and captured India’s Khem Karan and beyond. This posed a serious threat to the rear of Indian troops facing Lahore.
The superior military strategy of Pakistan and bravery of its men and officers indeed threatened Indian positions all along the international border. In the South sector, Pakistan took the initiative to push back Indian troops and enter Indian Territory.
During the operations India captured about 400 square miles of Pakistan territory but lost around 1600 square miles of its own to Pakistan.
The war ended with the mediation effort of former Soviet Union through Tashkent Agreement in 1966.
The hell mark of 1965 war was that, every citizen of Pakistan was solidly united behind Pakistani military.
The national priorities were clear and unambiguous in those days. The leadership was absolutely clear to defend the national interests, state’s sovereignty, integrity and national pride. This year (2021), Pakistani nation is celebrating its 56th Defence Day.
The nation and its defence forces have passed through a phase of very difficult time in the last two decades. It was a very difficult war against terrorism and extremism which is still not over.
In Afghanistan, the foreign forces have just pull-out of the country and Taliban are in the process of establishing their Government.
Last two decades marked the beginning of a new and renewed pledge to uphold the national prestige and to defend the motherland at all costs.
Today, Pakistan is facing a non-traditional warfare, indeed, the 5th generation warfare in the form of terrorism, extremism, media exploitation and changing perception.
This non-kinetic warfare, imposed on Pakistan has enabled our defence forces to learn the new techniques to counter all those. The nation is fighting this unending war with a great courage and enthusiasm.
Owing to international and regional conspiracies Pakistan still faces a lot of problems at all levels; domestic, regional and international.
In fact, the conspiring forces are slowly and gradually penetrating into our society and causing misperception and deviation from the basic concept of ideology, integration and national cohesion.
Resultantly, as a nation we are forgetting the golden principle of “unity, faith and discipline”. Today, we need a national integration and cohesion among the larger Pakistani society for a better and secure future of every Pakistani.
On this Day, let’s have a renewed pledge to make Pakistan impregnable, secure, stable and prosperous.
The defence forces of Pakistan have played their part by physically defeating the terrorism and militancy from all over Pakistan.
Now it is responsibility of our political government, media, academic institutions and civil society to counter the narratives which create radicalization and promote disharmony on the basis of ethnicity, sectarianism and sub-nationalism.
Let’s revive the spirit of 06 September 1965 once Pakistani nation stood behind its defence forces to defeat the Indian aggression against Pakistan.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.