KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: The nation is celebrating Defence and Martyrs Day on Thursday to pay tribute to martyrs on the 53rd anniversary of the 1965 war.
The day dawned with a thirty-one gun salute in the federal capital and twenty-one gun salute in provincial capitals.
Celebrations have been scheduled across the country to mark the day with the main event to be held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi which will be attended by Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan will be chief guest. The ceremony will be held at 8pm.
A change of guard ceremony was held at the mausoleums of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi and at Allama Iqbal’s in Lahore.
Special events to pay homage to the martyrs are also being held at all district headquarters. Families of martyrs are participating in the events to commemorate their sacrifices.
Wreath laying ceremonies are also being held at the mausoleums of the recipients of Nishan-e-Haider and are being attended by senior officials of the respective areas across the country.
After fajr, special prayers were offered in mosques for the country’s progress and prosperity. Fateha prayers and Quran Khawani events for the martyrs are also slated to be held later in the day.
On this day, 53 years ago, Indian forces had crossed the international border in the darkness of night to attack Pakistan but the nation foiled the nefarious designs of the enemy.
Change of guard ceremonies
Change of guard ceremonies were held at Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi and at Allama Iqbal’s mausoleum in Lahore.
During the ceremony at the Quaid’s mausoleum, a smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Air Force assumed guard duties.
In Lahore, Garrison Commander Major General Muhammad Aamir laid a floral wreath and offered Fateha.
Meanwhile, a special ceremony to mark Defence Day is in progress at Fortress Stadium in Lahore under the aegis of Pakistan Army.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar is the Chief Guest on the occasion. Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and Corps Commander Lahore Lt Gen Aamir Riaz are attending the ceremony.
PM Imran’s message
Prime Minister Imran Khan in his message to the nation on Defence Day said that the people of Pakistan will leave no stone unturned in defending their motherland.
We stand side-by-side with valiant armed forces of the country, the premier said.
“We will face all challenges while following Quaid-e-Azam’s principles of unity, faith and discipline,” he continued.
PM Imran also paid rich tribute to the martyrs for their sacrifices in defending the motherland and assured their families that every possible step will be taken for their welfare.
“Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence and wants to promote mutual cooperation with the world, including neighbours on the basis of equality,” PM Imran added.
President Mamnoon’s message
President Mamnoon Hussain said that people of Pakistan demonstrated unsurpassed national unity.
In his message, the outgoing president added, “The sacrifices rendered by our valiant armed forces and the nation call for carrying on the spirit of September by forging unity among our ranks and fostering collective consciousness and wisdom as these traits are imperative to defeat the evil designs and conspiracies of the enemy.”
Army chief’s message
Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to the martyrs and their relatives on the occasion.
In a promo released by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief said, “The death of a martyr has kept the country alive.”
DG ISPR’s message
Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted, “It’s ‘Defence and Martyrs Day today. Let’s visit homes of our martyrs. Let’s salute them and their great families. Let’s thank them for their great sacrifices for our country. Great nations never forget their martyrs; we are a great nation.”
Politicians, ministers pay tribute to martyrs
Several politicians and ministers paid tribute to martyrs of the 1965 war.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Defence Day serves as a reminder to the enemies that the “armed forces and Pakistani nation were, are and will stay united for the sake of country’s defense, progress, dignity and sovereignty”.
“Today, we will also have to reaffirm our resolve to make Pakistan a welfare and impregnable power whilst emulating the spirit of September war,” Chaudhry added.
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal reiterated the pledge to revive the spirit of unity of September 1965 in confronting new challenges.
“Pakistan Army is now writing a new chapter of gallantry in the war against terrorism for the stability of the country and are rendering invaluable sacrifices for purging the country of the menace of terrorism,” he added.
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that those who sacrificed their lives for the nation are our heroes and will forever be remembered.