What is Defence Day (Pakistan)?

Introduction

Defence Day is celebrated in Pakistan as national day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Pakistani soldiers in defending its borders.

The date of 06 September marks the day in 1965 when Indian troops crossed the international border to launch an attack on Pakistani Punjab, in a riposte to Pakistan’s Operation Grand Slam targeting Jammu. While it is officially commemorated as an unprovoked surprise attack by India, which was repulsed by the Pakistan Army despite its smaller size and fewer armaments, this narrative has been criticised by Pakistani commentators as representing false history.

The Context of the 1965 War

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 began with Pakistan sending 7,000-8,000 specially trained Mujahid savers of kashmiris into the Kashmir Valley with the objective of inciting the population into rebellion and dislocating the Indian Army installations (Note 1). In the second stage, on 01 September, it launched a tank attack, dubbed Operation Grand Slam, towards the Akhnoor bridge in the Jammu Division. It was intended to be a “short and swift, fait accompli operation”. According to scholar Shuja Nawaz, the Pakistani general intended to capture the Akhnoor bridge and swing towards Jammu to cut off India’s communications with the Kashmir Valley. The Pakistanis had ignored the Indian Prime Minister’s warnings that India would retaliate on Pakistan if Kashmir was attacked.

On 06 September, according to its “pre-declared strategy” of riposte (Note 2), the Indian Army crossed the international border in Punjab with the objective of cutting off the Grand Trunk Road near Lahore. The attack came as a surprise to the Pakistani commanders. According to Air Marshal Nur Khan, the Army Chief General Musa Khan told the President on the second day of the war that the Army had run out of ammunition. He states that the Army suffered heavy losses in the war. On 23 September, Pakistan accepted a UN-mandated ceasefire (Note 3).

Notes

  1. The infiltration began on 5 August 1965, according to the UN military observers stationed on the Kashmir Line of Control since 1949.: Secretary-General U. Thant stated: “the series of violations that began on 5 August were to a considerable extent in subsequent days in the form of armed men not in uniform, crossing the CFL from the Pakistan side for the purpose of armed action on the Indian side.”
  2. A riposte in military strategy involves striking a vulnerable point of the enemy in order to force him to abandon his own attack.
  3. India had already accepted various UN proposals for cease-fire, starting around 14 September.

Celebrations and Parades

The Pakistan Army displays its latest missiles, tanks, guns, Pakistan Army Aviation helicopters and armament being used by Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Corps, Army Air Defence, Signals, Army Service Corps and the Army Medical Corps. Everyone is allowed to watch such functions live by going to specific places. These shows are also displayed on national TV channels. National songs, special documentaries about 06 September 1965 and the stories of the people who were martyred on that day are displayed on TV. The facts are told of how people sacrificed their lives for the defence of the country and what the responsibility is of the younger generation, the children, who are the future of Pakistan.

The change of guard ceremony takes place at Mazar-e-Quaid, Karachi, where the cadets of Pakistan Air Force Academy present the Guard of Honour and take the charge.

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