Like every year, a grateful Pakistani nation celebrated Defence of Pakistan Day in a befitting manner on September 6, 2018 and paid rich tributes to its Shuhdas and Ghazis who had in September 1965 defended geographical as well ideological borders of the motherland boldly and courageously defeating the enemy squarely on the ground, in the air and on the sea. They had thus written a golden chapter of history of the country which had come into existence with the blessings of Almighty Allah under inspiring leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah only on August 14, 1965.
It was on September 6, 1965 that India had crossed the international borders and attacked Pakistan through Lahore without a warning or a formal declaration of war even. Even after lapse of 53 years, those who had witnessed sneaky and treacherous Indian attack and are still alive having vivid memory of those 17 days and celebrate the Defence of Pakistan Day on this 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.
But 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’s daring fighters were able to blunt the Indian offensive and roll it back forcefully. Dog fight of PAF Sabres 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, 1965 when the war had ended with the mediation effort of the then Soviet Union and a peace agree 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, repulsed and heavily mauled. India had used its armoured division and other strike formations in the tank battle but still could not penetrate in 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 strong rock like second defence line extending and providing all support to their forces. In doing so, the people had forgotten as to 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 had thus become 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 level ever. 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 had emerged from 17 days long September 1965 war with India as a strong and self-confident nation, genuinely proud of itself and its armed forces. The nation had demonstrated utmost unity in its ranks and file in facing the danger and aggression from India. It is quite rightly said and believed that the national unity and full and solid support in unquestionable manner to the armed forces in the field is essential for victory in the war, and this was amply proved during the September 1965 War. With the unstinted support of the entire nation, the armed forces of Pakistan were able to repluse the naked Indian aggression across the international border forcing her to pay the price for it by capturing four times more territory than what India had occupied and forcing her to accept a ceasefire, return to the negotiating table and to vacate each other’s captured territory.
It was certainly the finest hour of glory of Army, Air Force and Navy and a day to be always remembered by future generations and paying tributes to the Shuhdas and Ghazis of the September War. While paying tributes to the Shuhdas and Ghazis of the 17 days war with India, 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.
And, while we celebrate the Defence of Pakistan Day on September 6 now and also in future it should also be observed as a thanksgiving day. In line with the spirit and national unity demonstrated during the September War being over and above all petty personal, political and other considerations whatsoever, we should all be praying for the safety, security and solidarity of Pakistan and also seeking blessings of Almighty Allah for continuously granting up the strength, courage, commitment and determination to continue protecting and safeguarding at all costs and offering all sacrifices, the freedom and honour of our God-given motherland Pakistan for now and always.
n The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.