Defence Day

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Defence Day
یومِ دفاع
Also calledYoum-e-Difa
Observed byPakistan
CelebrationsFlag hoisting, parade, military exhibitions, award ceremonies, singing patriotic songs, entertainment and military programmes, speeches, fireworks, etc.
Date6 September
Next time6 September 2024 (2024-09-06)

Defence Day (Urdu: یومِ دفاع ALA-LC: Yaum-i Difāʿ IPA: [jɔːm-e d̪ɪfɑː]) is celebrated in Pakistan as national day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Pakistani soldiers in defending its borders.[1][2] The date of 6 September marks the day in 1965 when Indian troops crossed the international border to launch an attack on Pakistani Punjab, in a riposte to Pakistan's Operation Grand Slam targeting Jammu.[3] While it is officially commemorated as an unprovoked surprise attack by India, repulsed by the Pakistan Army despite its smaller size and fewer armaments,[2][4] the narrative has been criticised by Indian commentators as representing false history.[2][5]

Context of the 1965 War[edit]

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 began with Pakistan, after India increased aggression in Kashmir, sending Mujahid into the Kashmir Valley to incite the population into rebellion and dislocate the local installations.[6][a] In the second stage, on 1 September, it launched a tank attack, dubbed Operation Grand Slam, towards the Akhnoor bridge in the Jammu Division. It was intended to be a "short and swift, fait accompli operation".[8] According to scholar Shuja Nawaz, the Pakistani general intended to capture the Akhnoor bridge and swing towards Jammu to cut off India's communications with Kashmir Valley.[9] The Pakistanis had ignored the Indian Prime Minister's (then Lal Bahadur Shastri's) warnings that India would retaliate against Pakistan if Kashmir were attacked.[8]

On 6 September, according to its "pre-declared strategy"[8] of riposte,[10][b] the Indian Army crossed the international border in Punjab intending to cut off the Grand Trunk Road near Lahore. Another Indian objective was to capture the Lahore Cantonment. The attack came as a surprise to the Pakistani commanders.[8][12] According to Air Marshal Nur Khan, the Army Chief General Musa Khan told President Muhammad Ayub Khan on the second day of the war that the Army had run out of ammunition. However, the statement given by Air Marshal Nur Khan was challenged by the Indian commanders themselves, Lt. Gen Harwant Singh himself stated that the heaviest firing by the Pakistan Army was started after ceasefire.[13] He states that the Army suffered heavy losses in the war.[14] On 23 September, Pakistan accepted a UN-mandated ceasefire.[c]

Pakistan instituted the Defence of Pakistan Day to commemorate the day when the Indian forces crossed into Pakistan. The Pakistan official narrative states that "[the] Indian forces sneaked [sic] into the Wagah border and the Pakistan armed forces, when alerted, put up a valiant defence of the motherland and drove them back, thus taking its name as the Defence of Pakistan Day."[16] Air Marshal Nur Khan commented, "It was a wrong war and they misled the nation with a big lie that India, rather than Pakistan, had provoked the war and that we (Pakistanis) were the victims of the Indian aggression."[14]

Celebrations and Parades[edit]

The Pakistan Army displays its latest missiles, tanks, guns, Pakistan Army Aviation helicopters and armament being used by Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Corps, Army Air Defense, Signals, Army Service Corps and the Army Medical Corps.[17] Everyone is allowed to watch such functions live by going to specific places. These shows are also displayed on national TV channels. National songs, special documentaries about 6 September 1965, and the stories of the people killed that day are displayed on TV.

On this day, a change of guard ceremony takes place at Mazar-e-Quaid, Karachi, where the cadets of Pakistan Air Force Academy present the Guard of Honour and take the charge.[18]


  1. ^ The infiltration began on 5 August 1965, according to the UN military observers stationed on the Kashmir Line of Control since 1949.[7]: Secretary-General U. Thant stated: "the series of violations that began on August 5 were to a considerable extent in subsequent days in the form of armed men not in uniform, crossing the CFL from the Pakistan side for the purpose of armed action on the Indian side."
  2. ^ A riposte in military strategy involves striking a vulnerable point of the enemy in order to force him to abandon his own attack.[11]
  3. ^ India had already accepted various UN proposals for a ceasefire, starting around 14 September.[15]


  1. ^ "September 6: A day to remember the sacrifices of Pakistan's martyrs". Dawn. 7 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Taha Siddiqui, Dear Pakistanis, this Defence Day, please stop celebrating hate, Al Jazeera, 6 September 2018.
  3. ^ Nawaz, Crossed Swords 2008, p. 227: "Opposing it was the Indian I Corps with its 1st Armoured Division and three infantry divisions, with orders to secure the Pathankot-Jammu road by launching a riposte to an anticipated move by Pakistan against Jammu, the private plan of General Akhtar Malik that his superiors had thwarted."
  4. ^ Kumar, Prejudice and Pride 2001, p. 45: "Young Nation, a youth supplement published by the liberal Friday Times of Lahore wrote: It tells an epic tale of our soldiers who being a very small number compared to the Indian and having very little ammunition, weapons and machinery, fought with such spirit, bravery and courage that it stunned the Indian forces, and of the unity of our people."
  5. ^ Air Marshal Nur Khan, Dawn, 6 September 2005, quoted in Hiranandani, Transition to Guardianship 2013, pp. 1963–1964: "It was a wrong war and they misled the nation with a big lie that India, rather than Pakistan, had provoked the war and that we (Pakistanis) were the victims of the Indian aggression."
  6. ^ Paul, Asymmetric Conflicts 1994, p. 111.
  7. ^ Joshi, Kashmir, 1947–1965 2008, p. 213.
  8. ^ a b c d Paul, Asymmetric Conflicts 1994, p. 112.
  9. ^ Nawaz, Crossed Swords 2008, p. 213.
  10. ^ Nawaz, Crossed Swords 2008, p. 227.
  11. ^ Beaufre, André (1965), An Introduction to Strategy: With Particular Reference to Problems of Defense, Politics, Economics, and Diplomacy in the Nuclear Age, Faber & Faber, p. 39
  12. ^ Hiranandani, Transition to Guardianship 2013, p. 1965.
  13. ^ "1965 War: General Chaudhury did not order withdrawal behind River Beas". Indian Defence Review. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  14. ^ a b Hiranandani, Transition to Guardianship 2013, p. 1964.
  15. ^ Joshi, Kashmir, 1947–1965 2008, p. 215: "in his report of September 16, the Secretary-General chose to be even-handed and told the Council that India had accepted the suggestion, and Pakistan was yet to reply."
  16. ^ Fair, C. Christine (2014), Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War, Oxford University Press, pp. 142–143, ISBN 978-0-19-989271-6
  17. ^ Defense Day Celebrations. Illustrated weekly of Pakistan. 1968. p. 22.
  18. ^ "Defense Day: Soldiers honoured 46 years on". The Express Tribune. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012.