In honor of Defence Day

By Beenish Altaf

Principally 6thSeptember is a significant day for all Pakistanis to commemorate the sacrifices of those who risked their lives for the integrity and sovereignty of the state and for the security of their countrymen back in 1965. It is a day whereby the citizens pay honor and homage to their defenders to show reverence to the guarantors of their freedom. Indeed it is a date that brings forth an expression of nationalist outlook and sentiments for the armed forces personals. Nevertheless, the defence day every year also merits a close scrutiny of the real facts and a critical analysis of the novel versions of the facts that have not been examined before. Therefore, it is the need of hour to pause for a while and reflect upon the realties, actualities and the contemporary history of Pakistan.

The month of September has always been given an exceptional importance in the history of Pakistan. It is primarily because of the excellent resistance and commendable fight the Pakistan armed forces put up against the Indian armed forces during the 1965 war which forced them to draw back and retreat. Therefore, the defence day of Pakistan is pre-dominantly in commemoration of the memories of valiant Pakistani soldiers who laid their lives protecting our homeland in the 1965 War against India. By and large, the day was continuously monitored by aerial means, naval and physical boundary’s safety measures.

In the contemporary time the armed forces continue to stand firm in the face of security challenges aimed against the country. Fast forward to September 2001 and the terror attack on WTC in the US, saw Pakistan actively playing its part in routing terrorism at national, regional and global level being the front line ally of the US in its War on Terrorism (WoT). The unique solidarity shown by the political and military leadership for the total elimination of terrorism is a bright chapter in the national history of Pakistan. This made the enemies of Pakistan realize that this nation is fully united to effectively counter any threat to national security and survival.

Fundamentally, it was the disputed territory of Kashmir that became the flashpoint in 1965 and led to the Indo-Pakistan warlater in the same year. Border skirmishes started in April, spiraled into a war as the Indian forces crossed the international border on 6thSept 1965 and advanced towards Lahore The without a formal declaration of war.

Indian forces launched a three-pronged offensive against Lahore, Sialkot and Rajasthan. There was a fierce tank battle on the plains of Punjab. That was the moment when the domestic India-Pakistan conflict transformed into an international conflict and raised to call the external power concerns.

‘The seventeen-day war witnessed the largest tank battles since World War II, causing thousands of casualties to both sides, but remained militarily inconclusive. Pakistan withstood the invasion of its territory by an enemy four times its size, and in doing so the whole nation stood up to the challenge with an iron resolve.’ The US suspended military supplies to both sides during the Indo-Pak War. Both the Soviet Union and the United States took a united stand to curtail the conflict within the boundaries of the Sub-continent from escalating into a global conflict. China threatened to intervene and offered military support to Pakistan. It was to keep China away from this conflict that both the Soviet Union and the United States pressured the UN to arrange for an immediate ceasefire. The main diplomatic effort to stop the fighting was conducted under the backing of the United Nations and a ceasefire came into effect on September 23, 1965.

Pakistan forces were strategically sound enough and stood as a concrete wall before the enemy during the confrontation. Today the political and military leadership is fully aware of the conspiracy and tactics of the enemy and vow to protect the security and solidarity of the country at every cost along with ensuring elevation of national honor and prestige.

Pakistan keeps facingnew threats and challenges such as terrorism, criminal acts or other strategic threats all fueled by other states especially India having stakes in the instability of the country. Even the Kashmir issue remains to be a constant bone of contention between the two countries. Till the Kashmiri people are granted their inalienable right to self-determination, thereby removing the core cause of conflict, durable peace will continue to elude South Asia.

Last but not the least, the Pakistan nation collectively should pray for the safety and solidarity of Pakistan and also that God gives us the strength, courage and determination, to protect and safeguard at all costs, the freedom and honor of our homeland.

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Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf is working as a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute, an Islamabad based think tank. Her areas of research are nuclear non-proliferation and strategic issues of South Asia. She has a masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University.

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