The Spirit of 6th September

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PATRON Lt Gen (Retd) SARDAR FS LODI recalls the spirit that symbolises September 6 for Pakistan

6th of September is celebrated each year as the Defence of Pakistan Day. It was on this day in 1965, that India launched her forces and attacked Pakistan across the international border without a warning or a declaration of war. this action of India, which claims to be the largest democracy in the World, was in utter violation of International law, charter of the United Nations and norms of civilized behavior among states. India arrogantly swept aside her international commitments in her desire to subjugate the region.

Even after a lapse of 34 years when a new generation in Pakistan are the decision makers, the memory of IndiaÕs treachery is vivid and uncompromising. At dawn on 6th September Indian forces crossed the border, pushed back the Pakistan Rangers and advanced towards Lahore on two axis. The Indian Army Chief, Gen. J. N. Chaudhry was so confident of defeating the Pakistani troops guarding the area and capturing Lahore that he announced to all and sundry that he would have a large peg of whisky at the Lahore Gymkhana Club in the evening of the 6th. He had reason to be confident as he was known in India as the Òconqueror of Hyderabad in DeccanÓ. It was 17 years earlier that Gen Chaudhry had attacked the princely state of Hyderabad in Deccan, at the head of an armoured division. This was part of IndiaÔs multi-pronged attack by three divisions, inspite of a stand-still agreement that India had signed with the state. But NehruÕs (First Prime Minister of India) new-India had started to proclaim that her agreements and commitments national and international could be violated at will to suit her purpose.

IndiaÕs attack against Lahore was held and beaten back with heavy losses to the attackers. The Pakistan Army units defending on the ground, supported by the Pakistan Air Force were able to blunt the Indian offensive and roll it back. Two days later on 8th September India launched its main attack against Sialkot using its armoured division and other strike formations. What ensued has been described as the largest tank battle since the second World War. It was a hard and bitter struggle fought over many days and nightÕs resulting in casualties on both sides. In the end the Indian main attack was held and severely mauled. Its armoured division was force to withdraw owing to very high losses in men and material. South of Lahore, Pakistan launched its own counter attack and captured IndiaÕs Khem Karan and beyond. This posed a serious threat to the rear of Indian troops facing Lahore.

In the South Pakistan took the initiative to push back Indian troops and enter Indian territory. During the operations India captured about 400 square miles of Pakistan territory but lost around 1600 square miles of its own to Pakistan. The war ended with the mediation effort of the USSR and a peace agreement was signed at Tashkent.

During the 1965 war every citizen of the country was solidly united behind the government, although it was a military one, of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The national priorities were clear and unambiguous in those days, any danger to the country called for unity and unstinted support to the government and the armed forces. There was no question of any political party or leader taking advantage of the war to berate the government for political or personal gain. This came much later when President AyubÕs health suffered a set back and personal ambitions of those he had brought into prominence came to the fore.

Pakistan emerged from the September 1965 war with India, a strong and self-confident nation, proud of itself and its armed forces. It was a nation that was united in facing the danger from India. National unity and full support for the armed forces in the field is essential for success in war. With the nationÕs support the Armed Forces of Pakistan repulsed IndiaÔs naked aggression across the international border and made her pay a price for it by capturing four times more territory than India and forcing her to accept a ceasefire, return to the negotiating table and to vacate each others territory. It was certainly their finest hour of glory and a day to be remembered by future generations of soldiers and civilians.

After the September 1965 Indo-Pakistan war and the Tashkent Agreement Pakistan relaxed, as peace had been restored. But India prepared anew and six years later in 1971 again attacked across the international border, this time in the Eastern Wing of the country and succeeded in dismembering Pakistan while the World and the United Nations stood by and watched. India has consistently used force as an instrument of her foreign and domestic policy against all her neighbours including China, and internally against her own small states and occupied Kashmir to the detriment of her religious and ethnic minorities. This has been reflected by all the main Human Rights organizations of the World. Recently the New York based Human Rights Watch released its report condemning India for its atrocities in Indian-held Kashmir. This was released during the Kargil fighting a few months back.

This year we celebrate Defence of Pakistan Day after the recent fighting in Indian occupied Kashmir near Kargil. There has been some criticism within the country of the governmentÕs handling of the situation particularly of the Prime MinisterÕs visit to Washington. Unfortunately all the criticism emanates by and large from those political parties in opposition to the government and as such the credibility of their arguments is reduced to that extent. Some writings have appeared, particularly in the English press who fail to understand the Kashmir issue in its proper perspective and there are others who may well be inspired from within or without for reasons better known to them.

Kargil has added a new chapter to the KashmiriÕs 52 years old struggle for emancipation from the suppressive and brutal Indian rule. They have demonstrated their ability to force a decision on Kashmir. Any form of status quo is not acceptable to them any more. It is the opinion of neutral experts at home and abroad that the Kashmir dispute cannot be forced back into cold storage again in view of the determination to fight and die as shown by a few hundred Kashmiris on the outskirts of Kargil under the shadow of a larger conflict. It should now be the concern of the World community to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute under a democratic process, of the will of the people of Kashmir.

During the Kargil conflict the Pakistani troops deployed on the Line of Control in the area came under constant Indian pressure and repeated attacks. They gave a good account of themselves and many were killed defending the frontiers of Pakistan and the honour of their homeland. They fought with great determination and courage blunting and repulsing every enemy attack with considerable losses to the Indians. Pakistan Army COAS has recently mentioned Indian Army losses at about 1700 killed and therefore 3 to 4 times that number wounded. The officers and men of the Pakistan Army and para-military forces fought with the spirit of the September 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, and should be included in our prayers on the 6th of September alongwith all those officers and men of the Forces killed in action since 1948.

The 6th of September should also be a day of thanksgiving. We should all pray for the safety and solidarity of Pakistan and also that God gives us the strength, courage and determination, to protect and safeguard at all costs, the freedom and honour of our homeland.