Prime Minister Imran Khan has rubbished the myth of a civil-military divide in the country and said the Pakistani nation was destined to rise as all state institutions were determined to work together, to make it great.

Addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony on the lawns of the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “We both [civil, military] have a common goal and that is to take this country forward.”

“There is a myth of civil-military rift. There is no such issue. We have to elevate this country. Our life and death; is for this country.” PM said.

He saluted the valour and sacrifices of the armed forces, which stood strong against all odds in the aftermath of the 9/11 and the unconventional war that followed, to safeguard the interests of the country.

In categorical terms Imran Khan said, “Pakistan will never participate in anyone’s war.We have a commitment to stand by our people and protect our interests.”

The prime minister, however, stressed that to make the country strong, “we will have to strengthen our weak institutions, ensure merit and follow in the golden principles laid down by our Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace pe upon him).

Addressing the gathering attended by the families of the martyrs, the real guests of the evening, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the martyrs had the honour of being on the second highest tiers of honour after the Prophets.

Flanked by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the prime minister witnessed the around two hours event along with his wife.

The attendees included Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar, Deputy Speaker Muhammad Qasim Khan Suri, ministers for foreign affairs, defence, defence production, finance, information and railways.

Political leaders from across the divide included Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif.

The event is held annually to mark the Defence Day of Pakistan and takes the participants through the long journey of blood, sweat and tears the country had to undertake since gaining independence and highlights the sacrifices it had to render to maintain its sovereignty.

The tales of valour of the martyrs and their courageous families, who were bravely coping with their loss, brought tears to the eyes of even the hardened military brass, but it also strengthened their resolve to render any sacrifice to protect the country’s freedom. The prime minister was no exception.

He said after getting initial briefings from various ministries and departments he had no doubt in admitting that the institution of the armed forces was intact and functioning. He attributed it to lack of political interference and upholding of merit and professionalism.

PM further added, the country had undergone an ordeal during the war against terrorism, but its army and intelligence agencies had steered it out of the issue.

He said following a six-hour long briefing at the General Headquarters, he came to the conclusion that of all the institutions, only the army remained intact as an institution just because it maintained professionalism and meritocracy, which were the guarantors for the success of any institution.

He cited the revivals of Germany and Japan after collapse in the World War-II just because their institutions remained intact.

The prime minister said the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had built a leading nation out of disintegrated Arab tribes living in deserts that later ruled the world for centuries. Within a short span of time, he said, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had empowered his nation to defeat the then Roman and Persian empires.

“We have been asked to learn from the basic principles of that ideal state which included justice, meritocracy, education and equality.”

The prime minister said Pakistan was faced with the issues of foreign loans, water and power shortages; but he was confident that it would rise as a great nation, when every poor would have opportunities at par with the rich and the influential, besides enjoying easy justice, free medical treatment and equal opportunities for their children.

He reiterated his government’s resolve for uplifting the national institutions and said the provision of education and health facilities to out-of-school children and those with stunted growth, respectively, was the government’s responsibility as they also had equal rights to live a successful life.

He said the country would progress when the people did not have to move abroad to earn sustenance and they found that their state was providing justice to them.

Imran Khan said Pakistan was rich in natural resources, including gas, minerals like copper, fertile land and deep oceans, but the only need was the elevation of national institution.

He paid tribute to the Pakistan Army for getting the country rid of terrorism.

Addressing the families of the martyred soldiers, he said their dear and near ones, who had sacrificed their lives for the nation’s security, had been ranked after Prophets by Allah Almighty.

The prime minister recalled that he was just 12 years old in 1965, and he had picked up his father’s gun to join his relatives to fight with the Indian paratroopers, who were feared to have landed on Pakistan’s soil on September 7 that year.

The whole nation was united to support the Pak Army and had shown an unprecedented zeal, he added.

PM said had he not gone into cricket, he would have been a retired soldier today.