By Masroor Ahmad
“Show me the heroes that the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the future of your country.”
― Idowu Koyenikan
The month of September, arouse the feeling of pride, passion, zeal, and zest in every Pakistani and reminds us of commendable military achievements of our brave army against the aggression of India during the 1965 war fought in the same month. Pakistani nation celebrates and recalls that historical time when its gallantry forces brought its arch enemy to the knees with the help of the people of Pakistan who stood by their valiant soldiers with iron will during the Indo-Pak conflict. A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation and the Pakistanis proved their worth by securing their land, sea, and areal borders by challenging the enemy forces greater in number and resources. The strong resistances of Pakistani army during this war made Pakistanis believe that the future of their country was in safe hands and for 17 days in September 1965, the Pakistani nation achieved a unity of action and purpose it had not demonstrated before and has not displayed since.
India attacked across the international border on September 6 and a full-scale war broke out which concluded with a ceasefire on September 22. Peace between the two countries was negotiated under Soviet auspices in Tashkent on January 10th, 1966. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) also played a significant role in this war, which was the first time that the air forces of both states were facing each other. PAF pilots displayed remarkable skills despite its smaller size and its best example was that of Squadron Leader M.M. Alam, who shot down five Indian fighter planes. India launched its main attack against Sialkot using its armoured division and other strike formations. Analysts consider this to be the largest tank battle since World War II. It was a hard and bitter struggle fought over many days and nights, resulting in many casualties on both sides. In the end India’s armoured division was forced to withdraw, owing to very high losses in men and materiel. Over the years, both sides have claimed victory. Pakistan celebrates on 6 September every year as "Defence of Pakistan Day” with a 21-gun salute and a victory parade.
In September 1965, India and Pakistan fought a second war over the status of Jammu and Kashmir. The first war was fought in 1947-48 hard on the heels of the British withdrawal from the Subcontinent. In both cases India initiated the hostilities based on an irredentist claim to the state of Kashmir. This claim was rooted in the belief that Kashmir belonged to Pakistan owing to the predominantly Muslim population and geographic contiguity. Names of Sarwar Shaheed, Aziz Bhatti Shaheed and Shafqat Baloch rose to the top in the people’s pantheon of heroes. The list soon grew with the addition of more heroes — Sarfaraz Rafiqui Shaheed, Cecil Chaudhry, M.M. Alam — who shot down many planes in the air and on the ground. The Lahore front was soon stabilised and quick victory was won in the Khem Karan sector. The Lahorites could not decide what they liked better — the spectacle of aerial dogfight in daytime or the roar of Rani (a heavy gun) at night. Soon afterwards the tank battle at Chawinda in the Sialkot sector caught the people’s imagination. The battle was grim but the spirits were high. Poets offered soul-lifting lyrics and Noor Jahan led a galaxy of singers to inspire soldiers and citizens alike.
Pakistan and India, both nuclear-armed nations, have locked horns in Kashmir for a number of times with no roadmap to peace and stability. The recent inflictions on Kashmiris by occupied forces after revocation of Article 370 which granted special status, or limited autonomy, under the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir and Article 35A, which defined that the Jammu and Kashmir state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship call for the attention. The need of hour is to unite from a position of strength as the revocation of these articles is challenging the internationally recognized status of Jammu and Kashmir.
We should take up the matter of Kashmir with countries like China and must collaborate with European nations to promote long term resolution of conflicts in South Asia. The strategy of non-interference along with the peaceful progress model is to be enacted in order to put an end to arms race and militancy. The Chinese government is expanding its horizons through mega projects. China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the One Belt One Road project are aimed at exponential growth in trade and commerce in collaboration with Pakistan. It is an opportunity for regional politics to write a new chapter in regional cooperation. Pakistan can benefit from such an arrangement by bolstering its negotiation strategy with India and implement effective anti-terrorist measures while countering further radicalization through education and development.Globalization is a fact today, we are all connected. All of us are children of the same tribe, if these conflicts across the world are not resolved, they will ripple to every corner of the world and to our future generations.