September 6 is no doubt an unforgettable day in our national history. To show solidarity with our brave soldiers, I also attended the ceremony held at the GHQ Rawalpindi to pay tribute to our martyrs.
ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor had already announced the decision to celebrate Defence and Martyrs Day in a unique manner through a campaign titled ‘Humain Pyar Hai Pakistan Say’. During the ceremony at GHQ Rawalpindi, the participants recalled the courage and the passion with which our armed forces sacrificed their lives for Pakistan. Organising such events promote national unity, harmony, patriotism and brotherhood.
Similarly, Pakistan Air Force Day will be celebrated today in memory of our beloved country’s successful air defence in the 1965 war. On the night of September 5, 1965, India crossed the border and carried out attacks without a formal declaration of war.
On the very next day, our brave soldiers accepted the challenge and set a shining example of bravery by sacrificing their lives to defend Pakistan.
The most remarkable event in the history of the 1965 war happened on September 7, when M M Alam, a flying ace of the Pakistan Air Force, set a world record by shooting down five aircrafts in less than a minute.
Pakistan is among those countries that survived after facing tough challenges and aggression in September 1965. Even today, we have some elders among us who have recollections of the war. They remember how Pakistan’s sovereignty was attacked by a hostile enemy only 18 years after Independence. During the war, all Pakistanis were determined to defend their motherland. In such a critical situation, no one was afraid of the numerical superiority and military prowess of the enemy.
Pakistanis stood firmly with the armed forces to ensure that the enemy’s aggression towards our territories could be stopped. The Battle of Chawinda is considered to be one of the most significant conflicts witnessed during the war. It is also termed as one of the largest tank battles since World War II.
However, Pakistani soldiers managed to repel the massive assault in the tank battle. The well-known myth that our soldiers destroyed enemy tanks with bombs tied to their chests reflects how bravely they faced their opponents.
When the India Army tried to capture Lahore, it had to face Major Aziz Bhatti who proved with his martyrdom that Pakistani soldiers know how to defend their country by sacrificing their lives. When the enemy was busy in carrying out propaganda on a massive level, the independent foreign media admitted Pakistan’s military successes in September war.
Rai Milan, an American Radio Service Journalist, wrote in his war diary that during his two-decade-long journalistic career, he had never witnessed such victorious soldiers like those who belonged to the Pakistan Army.
Our navy and air force also fought alongside the Pakistan Army to defend their homeland. When the war was announced, the Pakistan Navy successfully took control of maritime routes. On one end, the movement of enemy ships was restricted and, on the other, a safe trading passage to reach Pakistan was ensured.
Legendary figures like Air Marshal Asghar Khan, Air Marshal Noor Khan and M M Alam played a pivotal role in safeguarding the national skies. Squadron leader Sarfraz Rafiqui, Muniruddin Ahmed, Allauddin Ahmed and many other martyrs sacrificed their lives, but didn’t let the enemy harm Pakistan.
The1965 war highlights the historical and successful resistance against a large enemy. But the main factor for our success was the unity among Pakistanis who bravely faced the enemy as a single team regardless of their differences. During this war, the civil society and the entertainment community also showed solidarity with brave soldiers.
Another significant aspect of the 1965 war was the contribution of patriotic non-Muslim Pakistani war heroes. A number of Christian and Hindu Pakistani soldiers also fought to defend their motherland. Some Hindu officers even sacrificed their lives to prove that safeguarding Pakistan, our dharti mata, is part of their religion. Air Commodore Balwant Kumar was the one of the senior Pakistani Hindu officers who fought to defend Pakistan. There were many such brave heroes, including Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry, Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat, Squadron Leader Peter Christy, Air Vice Marshal Eric Gordan Hall, and Major General Julian Peter.
The ISPR’s initiative will have a long-lasting impact in raising awareness about the sacrifices of our all martyrs. It is time to stand together with national spirit and harmony to deliver the strong message that all of us stand united to love Pakistan, regardless of whether we belong to a majority or minority group.
The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.