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Thursday April 25, 2024

Special report: Heroes of the 1965 war

By Our Correspondent
September 06, 2023

Every year on September 6, Pakistan commemorates a day of immense significance, dedicated to honouring the martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending the nation during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War. This solemn occasion serves as a poignant reminder of the valour and unwavering patriotism displayed by those who laid down their lives to safeguard our homeland.

On this historic day, the people of Pakistan got united with unshakable resolve in the face of an enemy that resorted to cowardly tactics under the cover of darkness, aiming to compromise Pakistan's territorial integrity and the freedom of its people.

With the unwavering support of the entire nation, the coordinated response of the Armed Forces of Pakistan thwarted the ambitious designs of India, which aspired to celebrate a premature victory in Lahore. Despite operating with relatively modest numbers and limited resources, the Pakistani Forces exhibited extraordinary prowess by routing the invading Indian forces on multiple fronts-be it in the skies, on the ground, or at sea.

The night of September 6, 1965, witnessed a daring incursion by the Indian Army across the international border, targeting the Lahore sector. The intent was to swiftly capture Lahore as part of a blitzkrieg strategy, thereby gaining an upper hand in the Indo-Pakistan conflict that had ignited over the Indian-occupied Kashmir region. However, the Pakistan Army units stationed on the front lines, bolstered by the unwavering support of the Pakistan Air Force, effectively blunted the Indian offensive and decisively pushed it back.

This remarkable chapter in our history stands as a testament to the unyielding spirit and resilience of Pakistan's armed forces and its people. September 6th serves as an annual tribute to these unsung heroes, reminding us of their sacrifices and the indomitable spirit that defines the nation.

It is incumbent upon us to vividly recount the remarkable feats of our gallant soldiers, ensuring that our youth remain impervious to the divisive propaganda propagated by those who seek to undermine Pakistan's sovereignty.

Major Raja Aziz Bhatti

On the 6th of September 1965, Major Bhatti, serving as a Company Commander in the Burki area of the Lahore sector, made a courageous choice. Despite incessant artillery and tank attacks, he led his forward platoon for five consecutive days and nights, defending the strategic BRB (Bambawali-Ravi-Bedian) canal. Undaunted by the constant barrage of enemy fire, Major Bhatti organised the canal's defence, urging his men to hold their ground. Tragically, he was struck by an enemy tank shell on the 10th of September 1965, giving his life in the line of duty.

Squadron Leader Mohammad Mehmood Alam

In an aerial combat over enemy territory, Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam, piloting an F-86 Sabre Jet, exhibited remarkable prowess. He shot down two enemy Hunter aircraft and damaged three others. The following day, he accomplished a historic feat by destroying five enemy Hunter aircraft in less than a minute while intercepting enemy aircraft attacking PAF Station, Sargodha. This record still stands today. His exceptional flying skills and valour earned him the Sitara-e-Jurat.

Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui

Squadron Leader Rafiqui led a formation of three F-86 aircraft in a strike against Halwara airfield. Despite being warned about numerous enemy interceptors in the air, he pressed on with his mission. During the return, his formation was intercepted by about ten Hunter aircraft. After shooting down one enemy aircraft, his own guns jammed. Instead of retreating, he ordered his No. 2 to take over as leader and continued to engage the enemy defensively in his unarmed aircraft. Squadron Leader Rafiqui's courage and dedication in this battle were truly exceptional. Although he lost his life when his aircraft was shot down, his actions enabled his formation to down three more Hunter aircraft. He displayed outstanding leadership and courage and was posthumously awarded Hilal-e-Jurat.

Aircraftman Anwar Hussain

Aircraftman Anwar Hussain's unwavering courage and devotion to duty shone brightly when he was stationed at a vital point that came under enemy rocket fire. Despite being the sole person on duty, he fought the ensuing fire using available resources and managed to control it, thus saving valuable equipment. His selfless act of bravery was recognised by the Tamgha-e-Jurat.

Squadron Leader Alauddin Ahmed

Squadron Leader Alauddin Ahmed led his squadron in twenty combat missions against Indian ground and air forces. In his final sortie, he attacked and successfully destroyed a crucial ammunition train at Gurdaspur rail-head, even as his own aircraft sustained damage and eventually went missing over enemy territory. His exemplary leadership, courage, and valour earned him the Sitara-e-Jurat.

Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan

Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan, a founding father of the modern Pakistan Air Force and former Commander-in-Chief, achieved an extraordinary victory during the 1965 war, leading a force significantly outnumbered. His remarkable valour earned him the Hilal-e-Jurat, Sitara-e-Quaid-i-Azam, and Sitara-e-Pakistan. Furthermore, he was bestowed with the Order of Istiqlal (Second Class) by the King of Jordan. Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan's contributions remain a source of inspiration for generations to come.

These valiant heroes, alongside the countless soldiers who laid down their lives in defence of their homeland, embody the relentless determination and unwavering loyalty of Pakistan's military forces during the 1965 confrontation with India. Their legacy serves as an eternal fount of inspiration, continuing to shape the ambitions of future generations.