As the monsoon period in Pakistan approaches its end, September emerges bringing back the patriotic sentiments of Defence Day. 6th September is a strong reminder of the nationalistic fervor and sacrifices made by Pakistani soldiers. It was on this day, fifty-eight years back, when Indian forces crossed international borders in the dead of night. A three-branch offensive was conducted against Sialkot, Lahore, and Rajasthan. The Plains of Punjab bore an intense fight of tanks. An arduous war was carried out between the two parties continuing for many days. The internal conflict between India and Pakistan attracted concerns from the superpowers turning the conflict to an international level. The major diplomatic effort to end the fighting took place under the United Nations’ umbrella leading to a ceasefire on 23rd September 1965.

The valor of Pak Army men together with the nationalistic fervor and unity of the Pakistani population was an effective counter against the enemy.

Had our military men lacked the energy and commitment needed then, Pakistan would have lost much. The skills and expertise demonstrated by Pakistani forces on that day are a persistent source of pride. Names such as Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed and PAF pilot Muhammad Mehmood Alam make up headlines of Defense Day’s heroes. The gallantry and expertise of these brave military men in the 1965 war add up to the patriotic fervor of Defense Day. Looking into brewing factors leading to this war strikes another bell.

The long-standing border issues, communal tensions, and dispute over Kashmir’s status evoked hostility from both sides. Kashmir remains a point of contention and bears the brunt of Narendra Modi’s nationalistic fanaticism.

The current Indian government under Narendra Modi has been set upon an atrocious campaign in Indian Illegal Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). From revoking articles 370 and 35A which stripped off the autonomous status of Kashmir to violently suppressing Kashmiri’s voice, the list of Indian atrocities goes on. Kashmiris have the right of self determination which Pakistan time and again reminisces. India’s obstinacy in forcefully persevering its rule in IIOJK is a violation of this basic right. Sticking to its absurd wish of keeping Kashmiris under its rule, India is causing serious violations of several other basic human rights.

History has time and again shown the drawbacks of engaging in full-scale wars. A humanistic approach to resolving disputes involves taking into consideration the long-term consequences of adopting a particular policy. India remains ignorant of the fact that forcefully establishing its writ over an area will never lead to a lasting gain. Dissent and anger will always be there even in the shadows if not allowed to be expressed openly as in the case of IIOJK. India is failing to learn lessons from historical outcomes, persisting in its rogue approach which can destabilize the South Asian region.

Defence Day, while boosting the nationalistic spirit and motivation of our nation also brings to light persisting issues that are the fate of the subcontinent. India’s attitude towards the Kashmir issue and its heartlessness towards the Muslim minority in Kashmir are incomprehensible in the current era. The world has moved on a lot in understanding the nature of human rights, their protection, and the pursuit of peace. Pakistan, even though keeping the sacrifices and achievements of its heroes in the forefront, restrains from employing a hardcore militaristic approach unless in the most dire of situations. It can only be wished for and hoped that factors that led to the 1965 war, particularly the status of Kashmir do not spiral into another war.

If India restrains itself from employing brutal use of force in IIOJK and allows Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination, things will seem to be on a better turn for all.

Defence Day is a reminder of the loyalty and commitment of our forces as well as the nation in protecting the country. With tough economic situation and uncertain political environment prevailing inside the country, it may seem that things are at a standstill. However, good and bad times are part and parcel of every country’s fate. Pakistan as a nation has demonstrated great levels of patience throughout the hardest of times. Even the strongest of winds have not been able to break our strength. The zeal and vigor displayed fifty-eight years back are inherent in the very nature of this country.

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