Islamabad: Pakistan on Sunday observed the 50th anniversary of a war with India, the annual event assuming special significance this year because of the current border tensions with the neighbour.
Ceremonies were held across the country on the golden jubilee of the ‘Defence of Pakistan Day’ to pay homage to martyrs and heros of the war, which was fought in 1965.
President Mamnoon Hussain attended a ceremony in Islamabad at Air Force headquarters where jets conducted an impressive fly-past, with people turning out in large numbers to watch the display.
The president in an address said it was “the true spirit of patriotism of our armed forces and the entire nation that defeated three times [the] militarily bigger enemy” in the 1965 conflict.
In his speech, Air Chief Sohail Aman warned “the enemy”, saying Pakistan and its armed forced will collectively respond to aggression.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laid a wreath at the monument of war hero Major Raja Aziz Bhatti, in Lahore, capital of Punjab province.
“The Defence Day of Pakistan reminds us of the unflinching resolve, determination, courage and bravery of the Pakistani nation,” the prime minister said.
Sharif said that “undoubtedly Pakistan is a responsible and peaceful nuclear power”.
“Though, we are fully aware of the conspiracies and tactics of the enemies, we desire to have good and peaceful relations with all our neighbours on the basis of sovereign equality,” he added.
“We will protect the sovereignty and security of Pakistan at all cost[s].”
The prime minister also hailed in his message “the success” of the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb to rid the country of terrorism.
“The exemplary unity demonstrated by the political and military leadership in curbing terrorism is yet another splendid chapter of our national history,” he said.
He said Pakistan, its armed forces and other law enforcement agencies “are determined to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.”
“We remain committed to the modernisation and upgradation of professional capabilities of our armed forces.”
The day dawned with a 31 gun salute at the Federal Capital and 21 gun salute at provincial capitals.
Special prayers are being offered for the progress and prosperity of the country.
A minute of silence was observed in the morning throughout the country to pay homage to the martyrs of the 1965 war.
Media reports said all trains stopped for one minute while silence was observed at railway stations.
This was followed by the national anthem being played by all radio and television networks, which also broadcast special programmes and documentaries on the war.
Thousands of people reportedly converged at the Wagah border crossing between Pakistan and India near Lahroe to watch a special Defence Day ceremony. They shouted “Allah o Akar and “Pakistan Zindabad”.