Pakistan observed on Friday the 54th Defence and Martyrs Day across the country.
The day is marked to pay tribute to the nation’s martyrs and commemorate the date of the 1965 war. The day began with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and 21-gun salutes in the provincial capitals.
Change of guard ceremonies were held at Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum in Karachi, Allama Iqbal’s Mausoleum in Lahore and GHQ in Rawalpindi.
Air Vice Marshal Hamid Rashid was the guest of honour at the ceremony in Karachi.
In Rawalpindi the change of guard was observed by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He also visited the martyrs’ monument and laid a wreath of flowers at it.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will address a ceremony in Muzaffarabad. Government offices across the country will close at 3pm today.
During a press conference on Wednesday, the ISPR chief asked people to visit the homes of martyrs on Defence Day to show their families that the nation is with them.
General Bajwa addressed an event at GHQ in Rawalpindi where he said when he is asked how the Pakistan Army manages to do things that no other army can do, he has one simple answer. “As long as we have parents like you, who give birth to such brave sons, no one can touch us and this is our true strength,” he said. Pakistan’s journey has been rife with sacrifices by our martyrs, from 1947 till today and we salute them, he said. He also saluted the parents, wives, siblings and children of these martyrs and said their sacrifices are remembered. “Our martyrs’ sacrifices have not gone in vain, nor will they,” he vowed.
It has been a long fight against terrorism but our officers and jawans have stayed firm, said General Bajwa. They sacrificed their futures for our today and because of them, there is peace in Pakistan, he said, as well as the whole world.
Pakistan has done its part, now it is up to the rest of the world to exterminate terrorism, he said. We must ensure that our future generations have a peaceful future, he said, adding that a peaceful Pakistan is our goal.
Speaking about Kashmir, he said the people of Pakistan feel their pain and stand with the people of Kashmir. They are the victims of a Hindutva mindset and are sacrificing their lives, he said. This our challenge, he said. Addressing Kashmiris, he said Pakistan will never abandon them. Our hearts our together and you are like our jugular vein, he said.
We are a peaceful country and we want peace in Kashmir, said the army chief, adding that Pakistan is ready to make sacrifices for that peace. “Till the last bullet, last soldier and last breath,” he said. “We will go to any lengths for Kashmir.”
The clouds of war are above us but we see the path of peace as well, he said, adding that Pakistan has always tried for a peaceful resolution to issues. We will continue to do so, he added. Pakistan has always advocated for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, he said.
In an endnote, the army chief saluted the families of martyrs and said their sacrifices are why the people of Pakistan can breathe freely today. There is no price on your sacrifice and no price for the blood spilled but today the whole nation salutes you, he said.
Your patience and your sacrifices have helped build our country and we will never forget that, said General Bajwa. He urged people to go to every martyr’s house and wish their families well. We have never shied away from making sacrifices for our country, he said.