Defence Day: General Bajwa says 'Kashmir is an unresolved agenda of the realisation of Pakistan'

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paying tribute to martyrs after laying a wreath at the Martyrs Monument at General Headquarters on Friday. — Photo courtesy ISPR

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, on the occasion of Defence and Martyrs Day on Friday, said that the Kashmir issue is an “unresolved agenda” of the realisation of Pakistan and would remain so until a solution is found on the basis of the United Nations resolutions and the will of the Kashmiri people.

This year, Defence and Martyrs Day is also being observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day.

Addressing an event held at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Gen Bajwa said that state terrorism by India was at its peak in occupied Kashmir.

“I want to assure the people of Kashmir, Pakistan will never leave them alone.

“The hearts of Pakistanis and Kashmiris beat together.

“Pakistan’s armed forces are ready to give every sacrifice for the people of Kashmir.”

The army chief said that Pakistan today was delivering a message of peace and prosperity.

“Today the peaceful and changing Pakistan is a message of peace, progress and tolerance for the world.”

“When we look at the situation of the subcontinent there are clouds of war and unease as well hope for peace and prosperity but Pakistan’s role has always remained positive.

“We have always emphasised the importance of peace, prosperity and dialogue,” Gen Bajwa said, adding that the example of Afghanistan was evidence of this.

“Pakistan has always supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”

Beginning his address, Gen Bajwa said that it was a matter of pride for him to be speaking on Defence Day.

“From 1947 till now, whether in traditional war or in operations against terrorists, our martyrs offered sacrifices and ensured the safety of the country,” the army chief said, adding that their sacrifices have not and will not be in vain.

He concluded his remarks by paying tribute to martyrs and their families.

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the 1965 Pakistan-India war when the nation’s forces defended the country from an Indian attack on Pakistani soil. This year, the day is being observed to pay tribute to the country’s martyrs and to reaffirm commitment to defending Pakistan against all threats.

The day began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salutes in the provincial capitals. Special prayers were also offered after Fajr prayers for the independence of occupied Kashmir as well as for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan, Radio Pakistan reported.

The main ceremony for Defence Day was held at the GHQ, where Gen Bajwa laid a wreath at the Martyrs Monument and observed a guard of honour.

A special ceremony was held at the mausoleum of Allama Iqbal in Lahore where Maj Gen Muhammad Aamir laid a wreath on Iqbal’s mausoleum. A contingent of the Pakistan Army presented a guard of honour.

A special ceremony including the changing of the guards was also held at the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam in Karachi.

Additionally, a ceremony was also held at the naval headquarters in Islamabad.

According to the interior ministry, offices throughout the country will be closed by 3pm to mark the day and show solidarity with Kashmiris and martyrs. People are encouraged to visit the families of the martyrs to assure them of their full support.

‘Pakistan united for occupied Kashmir’

In his Defence Day message, President Dr Arif Alvi said that today Pakistan was reiterating its solidarity with Kashmiris and renewing the country’s resolve to continue supporting Kashmiris right to self-determination.

“We will continue raising their just struggle for freedom at all levels and platforms. Indian brutalities and cruelties cannot suppress their spirit of freedom,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his message, said that all of Pakistan was united against India’s “illegal, unilateral, reckless and coercive attempt” to alter the status of occupied Kashmir, media reported.

The premier said September 6 stands out in Pakistan’s history as a “symbol of enduring display of unity, indomitable courage and unmatched sacrifices by our gallant soldiers”.

He applauded the sacrifices of the armed forces for ensuring the safety and security of the country.

The premier said that today the “enemy” was once again showing “aggressive postures” on the Line of Control (LoC), adding that a “reign of terror” had been unleashed on the people of occupied Kashmir.

The Indian government had placed Kashmiri leaders under house arrest and imposed a strict curfew and communications blackout in the region before it repealed Article 370 of the constitution, revoking occupied Kashmir’s special status. The lockdown has now continued for a month.

“For Pakistan, Kashmir stands as its jugular vein. Altering its status poses challenges to Pakistan’s security and integrity. The fascist government is hell-bent upon suppressing the Kashmiri people’s just struggle against India’s illegitimate occupation, denying them their right to self-determination permissible under the United Nations resolutions,” Prime Minister Imran said.

The premier said that Pakistan would not leave Kashmiris alone and would continue to provide “moral, political and diplomatic support for their inalienable right to self-determination within the framework of [the] UN resolutions”.

Prime Minister Imran expressed his confidence in the capability of the armed forces to give a “befitting response to any kind of aggression by the enemy”.

Meanwhile, in his message, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said that on September 6, Pakistanis had proven that no one could snatch their independence from them.

He paid tribute to the martyrs and said that today was a day to express loyalty with the people of Kashmir.

‘Proud of our martyrs’

While visiting the house of a martyr in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that all of Pakistan was proud of the nation’s martyrs and veterans.

He said that the curfew in occupied Kashmir had been in place for 33 days. However, the full picture of the situation was not yet presented before the world but reports coming from the region are frightening.

Qureshi said that the premier was going to Muzaffarabad today where he would meet the family of a martyr, adding that Prime Minister Imran would observe the day at the LoC.

Earlier, addressing a ceremony in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan welcomed the statements made by the Pakistan Army particularly Gen Bajwa’s address.

“Independence and self-determination is our right, it is in our blood and no power in the world can deprive Kashmiris of their independence and right to self-determination,” he said.