Pakistan is observing Defence and Martyrs Day on Friday in solidarity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK). Final preparations for the different events planned for the occasion across the country were made yesterday. 

Legislators, senior officials of the government, armed forces, police and other departments, as well as notables from different walks of life will pay tribute to the martyrs of the nation today. Special prayers would be offered at the Friday congregations for security of the country and IOK. 

This year marks the 54th anniversary of the 1965 war with India when the Pakistani forces repelled Indian attacks on Pakistani soil despite being heavily outnumbered. Defence Day is celebrated to pay glowing tribute to the martyrs of that war.

Celebrations kicked-off with a 31-gun salute in memory of the martyrs in capital Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in all the provincial capitals. Offices throughout the country will be closed by 3pm to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people. 

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has said that federal and provincial ministers, governors, chief ministers and members of the National and provincial assemblies would visit the families of martyrs throughout the day. 

This year, Defence Day is being observed as a day to express solidarity with oppressed people of occupied Kashmir. Prime Minister Imran Khan is also expected to visit the families of martyred soldiers today, suggest reports. 

Kashmir Solidarity Rallies are also planned in different cities to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people facing atrocities of Indian security forces in the occupied valley. 

Since August 5, residents of the occupied valley have been living under strict military curfew, after the Indian government scrapped the special constitutional autonomy of the valley.  Friday marks the 33rd day of the clampdown in occupied Kashmir. 

PM Imran, President Alvi's message on Defence Day

In his message, Prime Minister Imran Khan said September 6 stands out in the history of Pakistan as a symbol of enduring display of unity, indomitable courage and unmatched sacrifices by our gallant soldiers who, on this day, years ago, proved to the world that the country’s defence is unassailable and the valiant armed forces are ever ready to defend every inch of the motherland.

"My compliments to the brave forces who have ensured the safety and security of the motherland in all testing times. They have offered exemplary sacrifices in the pursuance of peace. Our shuhada and ghazis are our heroes and the nation owes them gratitude and respect," PM Imran said. "I salute the gallant sons of soil who laid down their lives while defending Pakistan and pay respect to their families for unparalleled sacrifices they rendered for our tomorrow."

He continued, "Today we are facing a similar situation; the enemy is once again showing aggressive postures on the Line of Control, it has unleashed a reign of terror on innocent and unarmed people of the Occupied Valley after changing the status of Kashmir by abolishing Articles 370 and 35-A in violation of the UN Charter."

"For Pakistan, Kashmir stands as its jugular vein. Altering its status poses challenges to Pakistan’s security and integrity," he asserted. 

"Muslims across India face detention camps and cancellation of citizenship because of the Hindutva ideology. I have called upon the world community to take note of the doctrine of hate and genocide and push India to stop it forthwith. I have also urged upon the international community to seriously consider the safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal that is in the control of a racist and Hindu supremacist government; this is an issue that impacts not just the South Asian region but the whole world."

President Arif Alvi in his message said, 54 years ago, our valiant Armed Forces, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the nation, immortalised this day as a symbol of courage, bravery, sacrifice and national integrity by thwarting the evil designs of the enemy. 

"Inspired by those proud moments, we have successfully confronted various internal challenges and defeated external conspiracies and by imbibing us with the passion for self-sufficiency, September Spirit has made our independence and sovereignty invincible. I am proud that in addition to being fully modernized, our Armed Forces are imbued with the spirit of patriotism and sacrifice and are capable of defeating any internal and external adventurism."