Farooq Ahmed

Today over 180 million Pakistanis are celebrating the 47th Defence Day of Pakistan. The Pakistani nation is rejoiced while venerating its armed forces and highlighting their utmost sacrifices; the forces that valiantly upset a sudden attack by the numerically superior adversary in their immediate neighbour.

The armed forces of Pakistan have displayed the same spirit on many occasions since the creation of Pakistan. This year, on 7th of April, the entire nation stood rock-solid with the Siachen defenders when their base camp at the Gayari Sector, near Skardu, came under a mammoth snow-slide and buried 130 personnel, including 129 soldiers, officers and civilians. Immediately after the incident, rescue efforts went in with all possible resources.

The next day Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, himself visited the Gayari sector and personally watched the rescue and recovery operation and instructed the commanders to optimally utilize all available resources to reach out to the entrapped personnel. The Army Chief told the media, “We are trying to reach the trapped soldiers. In the face of inclement of weather, no stone will be left unturned. We are not far from them and will find them out, no matter how long it takes”. The Gayari calamity has in fact significantly boosted the morale of the troops, who are defending the Motherland at the world’s highest battlefield. The Pakistan army has always risen to such occasions.

Around 300 soldiers, despite extreme weather hazards, worked day and night at the ill-fated Gayari Sector site where the situation was further compounded by the mass of snow, in which troops kept working under the low temperature, intermittent snowfall and piercing blizzards. This rescue operation is still continuing even after the four month’s time. Currently, Over 50 heavy machines, including Dumpers, Dozers, Excavators and Loaders, are functioning at the search site, and the excavation work continues at its fullest pace, exploiting all available manual and mechanical resources.

The first body that was recovered from under the tones of snow on May 26, 49 days after the incident, was of Sepoy Muhammad Hussain. The efforts continued as so far 79 bodies have been recovered and buried with full military honour. It was on the call of Chief of Army Staff who said, “Move the Mountains, if required, to recover all the jasd-e-khakis”.

The Pakistan Army exhibited the analogous spirit of 1965 while helping their countrymen in great distress during the flash floods of 2010 and 2011. Around 20 million people were affected by the floods which submerged almost one-fifth of the country under water. The Pakistan army, seeing the gravity and magnitude of the calamity, rose to the occasion and once again displayed sense of responsibility and courage. The defenders, obviously along with the entire nation, provided relief and rescue support to the flood-affected population as the devastation was so inexorable that it destroyed all the major bridges, roads networks, and badly damaged the communication infrastructure in the affected areas. The military launched Operation LABAIK as a well-planned, incorporated and coordinated operation, to help the flood victims, using all the resources available within the capacity of the government as well as the armed forces. Above all, it was the nation's resolve and faith on its armed forces, to which they stood absolved. 

Pakistan Army’s Resources Employed during Operation Labaik

Over 100000

Army troops




Relief camps




tons dry ration donated

10 million

 cooked food packets provided

The Pakistan Army troops rescued over one million people and shifted them to safer places. The Army Medical Corps established 50 medical camps and 200 Mobile Medical Teams, which provided medical treatment to flood affected patients.    

Similarly On the October 8, 2005 earthquake, over 5 million people became homeless in a flash of seconds in the affected areas of Azad Kashmir and in the parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which suffered 73,338 deaths and 128,304 injured. The Pakistan Army was the first to respond to this natural calamity of great magnitude and scale, and helped their brethern rescue and rehabilitate. The Army mobilized all resources for rescue, relief activities and cleared all the roads within a bare minimum time. The rescue operations commenced with using the army helicopters. All the aviation assets of the Pakistan Army Aviation were mobilized for relief and rescue operations. The aviation and other pilots flew over 12,500 hours in the affected areas for the delivery of relief goods and rescue of injured persons. The Army Logistics Control managed to dispatch from Chaklala Base 2,375 tonnes of relief items that included 138,269 tents and 1,048,297 blankets. The 186,188 injured patients were treated in the Combined Military and Military Hospitals of the Army. More than 75,000 troops of Pakistan Army were moved from across the country. These efforts were not only recognized by the people of Pakistan, but also by the international community; it rightly deserved the salutation. After the complete breakdown of law and order in the Swat and South Waziristan Agency, the Army was called “in aid of civil power” to flush out the militants and miscreants. The army launched successful operations called Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Nijat. At the moment, the Army is fully involved in the rehabilitation work started during the operation for the displaced persons; and in the development projects initiated in Swat and Waziristan.

At the international level, Pakistan armed forces have greatly contributed be it peace-keeping mission, natural calamity or any other call of time under the umbrella of United Nations. Pakistan’s journey with the UN peacekeeping operations began in 1960, when it deployed its first ever contingent in the UN operations in Congo. In the past 52 years, Pakistan has been the most significant and consistent contributor for UN peacekeeping around the world. The country’s armed forces have so far participated in 41 UN peacekeeping missions including some of the most challenging missions. The country has contributed 142,542 troops in the UN missions across the world; 128 Pakistani peacekeepers (10.24 percent of the UN’s total fatalities) have scarified their lives in the noble cause of helping humanity, building peace and bringing stability across the regions under the banner of the UN. The mission goes on and the sacrifices continue, yet no dent has been posed to the resolve and morale of the Armed Forces of Pakistan.n