ISLAMABAD - The nation on Sunday celebrated its 55th Defence Day with great zeal, renewing the pledge to protect the motherland from any aggression and misadventure besides gaining the economic strength for regional peace and prosperity.

The day dawned with special prayers in the mosques for the well-being and prosperity of the country, followed by 31-gun salute at the federal capital and 21-gun salute at provincial capitals.

President Dr Arif Alvi, in his Defence Day message, reiterated the nation’s “firm and clear” policy resolved that Pakistan would never compromise its sovereignty and security, making it clear that any kind of misadventure by the enemy would be dealt with severely.

“It makes me happy to state that we have achieved self-reliance in the defence field. We have thwarted external aggression; we have successfully defeated terrorism and extremism, and now we are on the path towards economic prosperity,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his  message said, Pakistan’s desire for peace must not be misconstrued as its weakness because the world understood that it was just for economic well-being and prosperity of the people in the region. “We need to work together for peace and secure a brighter future for our coming generations.”

He said the resilient nation and the battle hardened armed forces of Pakistan had time and again proved that they were fully capable of defending the country and were fully prepared to meet any kind of eventuality.

A number of activities were held across the country, reaffirming the nation’s resolve not to let anyone cast an evil eye at the homeland, achieved on August 14, 1947 after great sacrifices rendered by Muslims of the sub-continent.

Wreaths were laid at the mausoleums of the recipients of Nishan-e-Haider (the highest gallantry award), which were attended by senior officials of the respective areas across the country.

A main ceremony was held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, where Chief of Army Staff (COAS)  General Qamar Javed Bajwa laid a wreath at the Martyrs Monument and offered Fateha.

A similar function took place at the Naval Headquarters Islamabad where, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, laid wreath at the Yadgar-e-Shuhada and offered Fateha.

 Change of the guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in Karachi and Allama Muhammad Iqbal, in Lahore.

After the change of guard ceremony, Air Vice Marshal Shakeel Ghazanfar laid a wreath and offered Fateha at the Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi. He also recorded his impressions in visitors’ book.

Addressing the ceremony Air Vice Marshal, Shakeel Ghazanfar, paid rich tribute to the martyrs and Ghazis and said, armed forces were ever-ready for the safety and security of the motherland.

The Inter Services Public Relations released a latest national song to eulogize the matchless bravery and sacrifices of the martyrs they rendered while defending the motherland. The song “Har Ghari Tayyar Kamran” is a remake of an old patriotic song of the 80’s by the same name.

An investiture ceremony was also held at the General Headquarters Rawalpindi, in which COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, conferred military awards on army personnel for acts of gallantry during various operations.

Families of Shuhada/Ghazis, senior serving Military Officers/Soldiers also attended the ceremony. As many as 40 officers were awarded SITARA-I-IMTIAZ (MILITARY), 24 officers/soldiers were awarded TAMGHA-E-BISALAT and a soldier was awarded United Nations (UN) Medal. Medals of Shuhada were received by their family members.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa while addressing the ceremony said, the Armed Forces of Pakistan in September, 1965, had defeated the enemy many times greater in might than it and were always ready to defeat nefarious intentions of the enemy.

He said, “On this occasion, I want to send a message to my nation and the world that Pakistan is a peace-loving country. But if war is imposed on us, we will befittingly respond to every aggression.”

The COAS said, time has tried us many times and they have succeeded every time. “Pakistan is a living reality. Our blood, our passion, our actions will bear witness to this on every front.”

In a video message, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Senator Shibli Faraz, paid glowing tribute to the martyrs who embraced martyrdom in the line of duty.

“Today, we also renew our pledge and commitment that Pakistan stands firm with its Kashmiri brothers and sisters and will continue to do so,” he said adding, Prime Minister Imran Khan would continue advocating the Kashmir cause at every forum and Pakistan would continue extending its political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Lt. Gen (Retd.) Asim Saleem Bajwa, also took to Twitter to pay tribute to the martyrs.

“The whole nation stands behind you [the armed forces] with full trust. Let’s not forget ours are the best and only forces in the world to have won war on terror so comprehensively,” he said.

Pakistan embassies and missions abroad also held ceremonies in connection with the Defence Day, highlighting the national spirit of September 6, and paying homage to martyrs of the country.

Newspapers published special supplements, while electronic media telecast special programmes, highlighting importance of the day in Pakistan’s military history.

Special talk shows were aired on the state-run and private television channels and radio stations across the country, paying homage to the sons and daughters of the soil who laid down their lives and endured vagaries of war while defending the motherland.

On September 6, 1965, Pakistan faced a grave challenge to sovereignty and integrity, which the nation and its valiant armed forces met with great courage and determination, defeating the sinister ambitions of the much-larger enemy – India.

Since then, the nation has been observing the Defence Day every year with great zeal, seeking Allah Almighty’s blessing and support for the country’s integrity, prosperity and independence.