Every year on 6 September defence day is celebrated when, a grateful nation pays tributes to its martyrs and Ghazis who defended geographical borders of the motherland boldly and courageously defeat the enemy squarely on the ground, in air and on the sea.
It was on 6 September in 1965 that India had crossed the international borders and attacked Pakistan without a warning or a formal declaration of war. By doing this India, which day and night claims to be the largest democracy in the world, violated the international, charter of the United Nations and all norms of civilised behavior among the states. In her desire to subjugate the neighbouring countries, India had quite arrogantly brushed aside all her international commitments.
Even after lapse of 52 years, those who had witnessed the sneaky and treacherous Indian attack and are still alive and have vivid memory of those 16 days. We celebrate the Defence of Pakistan Day every year to keep reminding the new generations about how the armed forces of Pakistan, solidly backed by the entire nation, had defeated the Indian invaders.
The then Indian Army Chief General J.N. Chaudhry was so confident of victory, defeating Pakistani troops and straightaway capturing Lahore that he had announced very proudly of having a big peg of whisky in the Gymkhana Club (then located opposite the Governor House in Bagh-e-Jinnah and now housing the Quaid-i-Azam Library) in the evening of September 6.
He could not accomplish his cherished desire as India’s attack on Lahore was not only held but also beaten back by our troops inflicting heavy losses to the attackers. The Pakistan Army officers and jawans defending on the ground and fully supported by the Pakistan Air Force fighters were able to blunt the Indian offensive and roll it back forcefully. Dog fights of PAF Sabers over Lahore, chasing the Indian aircrafts, is still fresh in the memory of many like this scribe who had witnessed the great demonstration of high morale and spirit in the air. Afterwards, the Indian aircrafts hardly dared to attack Lahore through the days the war was in progress till September 23 when the war had ended with the mediations efforts of the Soviet Union and a peace agreement was signed by both Pakistan and India at Tashkent. If India had captured about 400 square miles of Pakistan territory then it had also lost about 1600 square miles of its own territory to Pakistan.
Great battle of tanks at Chowinda in Sialkot sector, the largest tank battle since the second World War, was a hard and bitter struggle fought over many days and nights resulting in heavy casualties on both sides. However, the main Indian attack was held and repulsed. India had used its armoured division and other strike formations in the tank battle but still could not penetrate Pakistani territory any further and was forced to withdraw after suffering very heavy losses in men and material. The large number of damaged and destroyed Indian tanks remained in the battle field for days together telling the visitors from all over the country story of spirited fight of Pakistani troops with limited number of tanks.
During the 1965 war, while the armed forces were engaged in defending geographical frontiers on ground, air and sea, the entire nation formed a strong rock-like second defence line extending and providing all support to their forces. In doing so, the people had forgotten which government was in power. Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan was at the helm of national affairs as the President and his inspirational speech after the sneaky Indian attack over Radio Pakistan had infused great spirit and courage among everyone. The national priorities were very clear and unambiguous in those days, any danger to the motherland called for the unity and unstinted support to the government and the armed forces and it was forthcoming in a very strong and firm manner. It is a matter of record that during those 17 days Pakistan was at war with India, crime had been reduced negligibly to the lowest ever level. No political party or leader was seen trying to draw any advantage out of the war or berate the government of the day for political or personal gain. They were all one and united in the defence of the motherland and defeating the Indian aggressors.
In all fairness, Pakistan emerged from the 1965 war as a strong and self-confident nation, genuinely proud of itself and its armed forces.
It was certainly the finest hour of glory for the Army, Air Force and Navy and a day to be remembered. While paying tributes to the Shuhdas and Ghazis we should also be offering tributes and prayers also for those officers and jawans of the armed forces martyred in action since 1948 in the defence of the ideological and geographical frontiers of the motherland including those laying down their lives in the ongoing war against the militants, extremists and terrorists to ensure safe and secure Pakistan for the posterity.