IN order to pay tribute to the martyrs of 1965 war and those who laid their lives for the motherland, a ceremony to commemorate Pakistan’s 53rd Defence Day was held at the General Headquarters (GHQ), Rawalpindi on September 6, 2018. As a chief guest, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, commended the institution of armed forces of Pakistan and declared it as the “only institution (in country) that works on the basis of merit.” He also promised that this meritocracy will be established in all fields in Pakistan, thus making nation prosper and proficient. Imran Khan made a pledged that, Pakistan will not fight other’s war in future. Besides, Premier also promised to formulate a foreign policy, which suits Pakistan and Pakistani people rather becoming hostage of others.
This year (2018), Pakistan celebrated its 53rd Youm-i-Difa with a new enthusiasm. Homage was paid to all martyrs of the nation for their unparalleled sacrifices for their motherland. Though, this day is signified because of the ‘unmatched defence of Pakistan, rendered by its armed forces and masses on September 6, 1965, once India attacked Pakistan, but, the nation celebrated it for paying tribute to all those who laid their lives before and after 1965 war, particularly those lost their lives or wounded during the on-going war on terror. Going into history, ‘it was September 6, 1965, once Indian Army launched its offensive against Pakistan, while crossing the international border without a warning or a declaration of war. This Indian attack was in ‘utter violation of International law, Charter of the United Nations and norms of civilized behaviour among states’. Indeed, India arrogantly swept aside her international commitments in her desire to subjugate the region’. This Indian attitude towards the regional countries and even outside the region is still continuing. As per the memories of (Retd) General 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’. Two days later on September 08, India launched its main attack against Sialkot using its armoured division and other strike formations. What ensued has been described as the largest 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 held and severely mauled. Its armoured division was forced to withdraw owing to very high losses in men and material. 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. In the South 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 the Pakistan was solidly united behind the state. 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.
Celebrations of Defence Day 2018, after coming out from a host of crisis, in last two decades marked a new beginning, a renewed pledge to uphold the national prestige and to defend the motherland at all costs. General Bajwa, the Army Chief while addressing said that, “All of you gathered here today gives credence to the fact that we are all united in our efforts to defend Pakistan.” Recalling the history, he said that, Pakistan has learned a lot from the wars of 65 and 71, thus made our defence impregnable. 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 armed 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 suffered a lot in last few years. Indeed, Pakistan still faces lot of problems at home as well as international level.
In fact, the conspiring forces slowly penetrated into our society and caused deviation from the basic concept of ideology, integration and cohesion, 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 over 207 million Pakistanis. As a nation, let’s have a renewed pledge to make Pakistan impregnable, secure, stable, and prosperous. The armed forces of Pakistan have played their part in securing the geographical and ideological frontiers of Pakistan. As a result of their unmatched contributions and sacrifices, the menace of terrorism is on its way out and peace and stability is taking roots. Now the masses need to defeat those forces, trying to defame our beloved armed forces as part of an international agenda. Apart from that, in order to ensure a lasting peace and perpetual prosperity, there is requirement that, every Pakistani should contribute positively towards national integration, national pride and dignity. In this regard, Pakistani media houses and intellectual community have to play a positive role.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations at IIUI, is based in Islamabad.