RAWALPINDI: Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the civil and military institutions in Pakistan are working together for the good of the country, as he dismissed any suggestions of a rift. He also revealed that had he not become a cricketer, he would have been a soldier.
“There is no such thing as a civil-military tug of war,” he said during his speech at the main ceremony for the country’s 53rd Defense and Martyrs Day. “Our goals are the same: that is to make Pakistan one of the greatest countries of the world.”
The ceremony was held at the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi on September 6. In addition to Khan and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the guests included senior military and civilian officials, including opposition-party leaders Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Shehbaz Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
During his speech Khan also recalled that when he was just 12 years old, in 1965, he picked up his father’s gun because he wanted to join his relatives in the fight against the Indian forces that were feared to have invaded Pakistan on September 7. Khan added that had he not become a cricketer, he would now be a retired soldier.
Earlier, in a message to the nation, Khan said that Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence and seeks friendly relations with all its neighbors. He added that while the Defense Day has become a potent symbol of national unity and solidarity, this year is different.
“This year is quite unique because the armed forces of Pakistan have stood out in [terms of] achievements in the war against terrorism,” he said.
Defense and Martyrs Day began with special prayers at mosques across the country. In addition to the main ceremony, a number of events paying tribute to Pakistan’s armed forces and those killed in action took place, and pictures of soldiers who lost their lives in battle were on display in public places. Preparations had been underway for several weeks, with the army and air force releasing videos to highlight their future plans and honor military personnel.
Defense Day commemorates the date when Indian armed forces crossed the international border to attack Pakistan in 1965. Martyr’s Day was introduced in 2014.