Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey on Sunday urged his countrymen to “imbibe the spirit of 1965.” Addressing a downsized ceremony in Ankara marking National Defense Day, Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi said: “Today, it becomes more important for all Pakistanis to imbibe in themselves the spirit of 1965, which is the need of the hour.”
Every year on Sept. 6, Pakistan marks National Defense Day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Pakistani soldiers in defending its eastern borders against India in a 1965 war. The embassy in Ankara held the ceremony with a modest gathering of its officials, a few special guests and community leaders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Qazi said it was on this day in 1965 that Pakistan’s “valiant armed forces and the entire nation stood united to thwart the nefarious design of the adversary, which had dared cast an evil eye on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our beloved homeland.”
In what is termed as “culmination of skirmishes” that took place from April to September 1965 between Pakistan and India, India mounted a full-scale military attack on Pakistan along the border of its Punjab province.
The war continued for 17 days and caused casualties on both sides and was the largest engagement of armored vehicles and the largest tank battle since World War II.
Since then, the day dawns with a 31-gun salute in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in provincial capitals, and special prayers are offered for the soldiers and civilians in the war.
“Defense Day of Pakistan is a day when we pay homage to our shuhada [martyrs] and ghazis [war winners] who stood steadfast in the face of heavy odds to defeat an adversary that enjoyed an overwhelming numerical and technological advantage,” said Qazi.
‘Pakistan is on road to stability’
A confident Qazi exclaimed: “Pakistan is on the road to stability — thanks to Almighty Allah — as it has an impregnable defense, [but] our nation is still facing multidimensional threats. Therefore, let us pledge to uphold the dignity, honor, and sovereignty of Pakistan at all costs.”
On the occasion, messages of Pakistan’s president and prime minister were read, who lauded the country’s armed forces.
“The nation and the men in uniform proved that it is not the size that matters, but it is the courage and devotion that matters the most,” read the message from Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He also called out India for violating the UN charter on disputed Jammu and Kashmir after it unilaterally scrapped the region’s semi-autonomous status in August 2019. “With the abrogation of Articles 370 & 35-A, India has not only violated the United Nations Charter but has also unleashed a reign of terror on innocent Kashmiris,” Khan said.