ISLAMABAD - For the Iranian nation, September 22 is considered one of the most significant and historic days. On this day, Saddam’s troops invaded Iran in 1980 with the support of major Western and regional powers. The commemoration starts on 22nd September and continues for a week. These seven days are marked eight years of Defence’ in Iraq’s imposed war. The Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mehdi Honardoost and Military Attaché Brigadier Mohsen Riazat hosted a reception to mark the 36th anniversary of the Defence Week of their country.

Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar, the Chief of General Staff of Pakistan Army,  graced the gathering as the chief guest. Liaquat Baloch, the Secretary-General Jamat-e-Islami, and Pir Muhammad Naqeeb -Ur -Rehman were also present on the occasion.

To honour the strong bond with Iran, notables from the diplomatic community, political representatives, religious leaders, and members of civil society attended the reception at Serena Hotel. They were treated graciously by Iranian officials. Because of the religious obligation of Shia community on 1st of Moharram, very few Shia leaders could attend the ceremony. After the national anthems, a cake was also cut on the occasion.

Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar is an officer from Artillery Corps of the Pakistan Army. He belongs to Sialkot and is a graduate of Command and Staff College Quetta, Turkish Staff College Istanbul and the National Defence University, Pakistan. He was commissioned on 14 March 1986 from 73rd PMA Long Course. He has held various command, staff and instructional appointments during his 31 years of service. As DG Rangers in Karachi, his services to combat terrorism and eliminate criminal activities in the sprawling port city are exemplary and extraordinary. He worked with dedication to bring peace to the city. One of the participants, while talking to Lt Gen Bilal Akbar, said that he will always be remembered as a national hero in the history of Pakistan. While talking about the postponement of Gen Qamar Javaid Bajwa’s visit to Karachi to meet the business community, Gen Bilal replied that the army chief would be free after 8th October to visit Karachi. The Iranian ambassador Mehdihonar Doost treated the guests with great hospitality.

On the first day of the Defence Week, Iran Government has unleashed a new ballistic missile named Khorramshahr during military parades held across the nation. The ballistic missile has a range of 2000 kilometers and is capable of carrying multiple warheads. Iran is enhancing its military might, and this missile test will add to the regional power of Iran. The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Defence Week said that no country could stop the Islamic Republic of Iran from strengthening its missile capabilities and defence programs. He added, “We will promote our defensive and military power as much as we deem necessary and seek no one’s permission to defend our land.” He further added that Iran’s defence power has never been used for acts of aggression, whereas certain superpowers have been involved in the export of deadly weapons to the Middle East.

Iran and Pakistan have historical, cultural, religious, and economic relations. Despite many ups and downs in relations, Pakistan has always found itself close to Iran due to similar strategic interests and a common religion. Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan as a sovereign state. Iran–Pakistan Gas pipeline project will open new economic vistas as well as peace and stability in the region.

–The writer is a freelance contributor