ISLAMABAD - Leaders have reiterated their resolve to defend the motherland as the nation will mark the Defence Day today.

The day will dawn with 31-gun salute in Islamabad and 21-gun salute in the provincial capital. Special prayers would be held for peace and prosperity. Fateha and Quran Khawani will also be held for the martyrs.

Wreath-laying vent ceremonies will be held at the mausoleums of the recipients of Nishan-i-Haider (the highest gallantry award) which will be attended by the senior officers of the respective areas across the country.

Main function to highlight the significance of the day will be held at the lawns of General Headquarters (GHQ), where Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif will address the guests. Special events will also be held at the defence formations where defence equipments will be displayed for the information of public.  The national media have chalked out comprehensive coverage plans of the events while special shows would be aired throughout the day. 

In his message, President Mamnoon Hussain said the acknowledgement of the sacrifices demands national unity and collective thinking, which is a pre-requisite to face challenges, deter nefarious designs and thwart conspiracies against Pakistan. “September 6 is a milestone in the history of our nation when 51 years ago, the jawans and officers, sailors and pilots courageously defended the homeland against the enemy aggression with the support of nation,” he said.

Paying tribute to the heroes, the president said the day highlighted people’s resolve to defend the motherland at all costs.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in his message that Pakistan’s defence capabilities meet the contemporary needs as its strong defence has ensured peace in South Asia.

“We do not want to join the arms race in the region, however, will continue to maintain a strategic balance in the region,” the PM said.  “Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a continuation of this conviction. The country has attained self-reliance in production of advanced weapons. Hatf missile series, Al Khalid and Zarrar tanks, JF-17 Thunder aircraft, Agosta submarines and the foremost of all, our nuclear capability is the hallmark of our strong defence,” he added.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari paid homage to the brave men and women who made sacrifices in fighting militancy and enemies of the country. In his message, Zardari said: “We salute and pay homage to the heroes and heroines of the nation — those brave men and women - who have laid down their lives for defending the frontiers of the motherland.

 “The enemy keeps changing the garb and location. Today our worst enemy is the extremist and the religious fanatic who lives among us, is terrorising people and seeking to undermine our national sovereignty.”