In the history of brave nations, the memories of remarkable occasions are always written ingolden words. The recollections of the valorous and heroic deeds of the daring men of such nations fill the human soul with passion.
It was the 6th of September, 1965. On this memorable day, a golden chapter was opened in the history of Pakistan. At 4.00 a.m., the Indian army crossed the boundaries of our country without giving any formal declaration and attacked some major areas of Lahore, Sialkot and Rajhistan. The Indian onslaught took Pakistani forces by surprise. In fact, the Indian forces met with considerable success by capturing some of the vital strategic areas at first. But when our army retorted with counterattacks, the enemy had to face the music. A ferocious land and air attack shattered the wicked planning of the enemy and forced it to retreat.
The splendid performance of Pakistani forces was entirely due to the firmness of faith, invincible spirit, perseverance in the face of adversity and, of course, the constant support of the nation. The steady backing and encouragement of Pakistani people kept up the spirits of our forces. Men, women, intellectuals, students, professionals, servants, singers, actors, doctors; in short, every person belonging to different walks of life played his part.
My Nano, who was 22 at that time, says, “During the War days I used to get up quite early in the morning to prepare ‘halwa puri’ for the soldiers. I, along with my younger sister, who was of 15, cooked scrumptious food very day. My father, fearless of the conditions, used to go to deliver the food to the army men.”
“I remember, I was in class 8 at that time. The enthusiasm and dedication of the students was worth seeing. We were trained for dispensing ‘first aid’. We organised different camps where we used to collect gifts hampers, clothes and other things to send them to the Pakistani forces. We were taught various techniques to protect ourselves in case of an attack. At the siren, we were advised to take refuge in the specially prepared trenches. The same siren would sound again continuously for a few minutes to indicate that the danger was over. But all of us were so passionate that we never bothered to take preventive measures. Rather, we watched the air fight from the top of the roofs, chanting slogans for our air force at the same time,” says my mother, recollecting her activities during the war days, with shining eyes and a smile on her face.
Chacha Bashir, one of the highly esteemed personalities of my town, was in his early forties during that period. Recalling those days, he says, “I can’t describe how we felt when the radio announced the attack of the Indian forces on Pakistan. Young or old, all displayed courage and resolution to thwart the enemy. We gathered near the Wagah Border to help our army, which seemed determined to fulfill its responsibilities. They asked us to pray to Allah and be patient.” While unfolding the happenings of the war, the solidity in the voice of the 85-year-old Chacha Bashir depicted the glory of those moments.
A ‘One (Teday) Paisa Fund’ (a paisa was the customary minimum valued coin at that time) was founded on the appeal of the then President, Ayub Khan, who said that if every Pakistani contributed a single pesa to this fund, two tanks could be purchased for the army. The announcement of this fund further uplifted the nation and a box to collect money for this worthy cause could be seen at almost every shop.
While recalling the fervor and enthusiasm that existed at that time, it would be an injustice not to mention the national songs sung by Madam Noor Jahan. The melodious voice of Malika-e-Taranum filled our soldiers with patriotic fervour. The songs like ‘Ay watan ke sajelay Jawanoon, meray naghmay tumharay liya hain’, ‘Satheeyo satheeyo mujahido, jag utha ha sara watan…’ and a Punjabi one ‘Ayy putar hattan tay nhi wikday, tu labdi phiray bazaar puray’ filled the whole nation with enthusiasm.
It’s a mere a glimpse of the unity shown by our nation and the bravery of our forces. What a supreme level of unity it was! Sometimes, when I try to compare today’s nation with that of 1965, I really become perplexed. What has happened to us? Though I believe that we still have almost the same passion, courage and same devotion hidden somewhere inside us, we lack something. Our passion, spirit and love remain unchanged and those who deny this ought to observe the spirit of the nation when we suffered from the earthquake catastrophe. It’s just that today, everyone is busy with his own life. The slogan, ‘proud to be a Pakistani’ has been replaced by ‘proud to be wealthy’.
Everyone of us wants his own betterment only. Due to the prevailing nepotism in our country, only the kinfolks of the high ups get lucrative jobs. And the professionals either fly to foreign countries or shed tears at their destiny.
The selfishness in our attitudes is draining the love and cheerfulness out of our lives. Now we don’t even bother to know what’s going on in the house next door. The people who used to sacrifice their lives for others are now looting their fellow countrymen.
What is to be done in such circumstances? All we need is a change in the direction of our thinking – from ‘self-interest’ to ‘national-interest’. By doing so, we can bring a resolution undoubtedly. This year, let’s commemorate the Defense Day by learning this lesson from the golden memories of our past. Let Us promise that once again we will be threaded in the twine of unison, love and determination as we were in 1965. We have the ability to bring back our ‘off the track train’ towards its original path – the path of prosperity.
Nahi hai na-umeed Iqbal apni kisht-e-veran say
Zara num ho tou ya mitti bari zarkhaiz hai saaqi
(Published: The News International)