By Sardar Khan Niazi
Every year we celebrate 6th September, Defense Day of Pakistan, with gun-salutes and prayer ceremonies across the country in memory of our brave soldiers who laid their lives defending our homeland in the 1965 War against India. This war was a successful defense of Lahore, Sialkot and other very important areas of Pakistan. On this day a grateful nation pays tributes to its war heroes i.e. Shuhdas and Ghazis who defended geographical borders of the motherland boldly and courageously defeated the enemy squarely on the ground, in air and on the sea. On September 6, 1965, Indian army crossed the international borders of Pakistan without a formal declaration of War. It was a time when not just our brave soldiers but the whole nation was cast into the mould of a cohesive unit to defend our homeland and defeated the Indian Army and made them retrieving on all fronts. The disputed state of Kashmir had become the flash point in 1965, and led to the Indo-Pakistan war later the same year. Border skirmishes that started in April spiraled into a full scale war as the Indian Forces advanced towards Lahore on 6th September. While the Indian Army outnumbered Pakistani Forces 3:1, their air force had a 5:1 numerical superiority against the Pakistan Air Force. However, as the Indian Major General Prasad led the 15th Infantry Division of the Indian Army towards Lahore, there was a counterattack by Pakistan near the strategic BRB Canal, and he was forced to abandon his vehicle and retreat. Major Raja Aziz Bhatti, the Company Commander in the Burki area of the Lahore sector played a critical role in stopping the Indian advance, for which he was posthumously awarded the highest military award, Nishan-e- Haider. The Pakistan Air Force pilots showed their skill and courage in the skies, and dogfights were common. Legends were born: M M Alam who shot 5 Indian planes in less than one minute and the first four planes in just thirty seconds only. He had a haul of 9 Indian planes to his name; the amazing Sarfaraz Ahmad Rafiqui whose exploits included shooting down two Indian Hunters in the Chamb sector on the 1st of September, and on the 6th when attacking the Halwara air base he downed one Indian Hunter and then his guns jammed, but he continued to give cover to the rest of the formation, till he was shot down; the attack on Pathankot air base which destroyed ten IAF planes on the ground, and the list of these amazing heroes goes on. The seventeen-day war witnessed the largest tank battle since World War I. 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 nation mobilized at every level, where every child, man or woman worked towards the war effort, be it to raise funds, train as civilian guards, or as nurses in hospitals. Famous singers took to the airwaves to sing inspirational war songs in praise of the defenders and became a symbol of the indomitable will of the nation. We feel blessed to have been a country protected by our valiant soldiers who sacrificed all they had and still do. We live in the comforts of our homes while they sit on the borders guarding that nation. They prevented the enemy to step in our homeland. The mere fact that Pakistan was able to defend its borders among all odds and reclaim this country as independent is satisfying enough. Those men of steel were passionate to not let the enemy win just because the fire of owning their uniform and love for their people was ablaze. How we are supposed to payback to those we are forever indebted to? Those who were martyred in the battlefields earned much more than we could ever give. Those who leave their families back home unattended deserve our respect. Happy Defence Day! We are still independent! Pakistan faces new threats and challenges, whether it is terrorism, or criminal and mafia gangs, fueled and financed by our enemies. Since launching of operation Zarb-e-Azb, incidents of terrorism have plummeted, Karachi, the financial centre of Pakistan, was hostage to well-entrenched criminal gangs and mafias. It is now a much safer city. Kashmir is again on fire after the martyrdom of 22-year old Burhan Wani, and the demand for freedom resonates throughout the Valley. 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.