KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The nation is celebrating Defence and Martyrs Day on Thursday to pay tribute to martyrs on the 53rd anniversary of the 1965 war.
The day dawned with a thirty-one gun salute in the federal capital and twenty-one gun salute in provincial capitals.
Celebrations have been scheduled across the country to mark the day with the main event to be held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi which will be attended by Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan will be chief guest. The ceremony will be held at 8pm.
A change of guard ceremony was held at the mausoleums of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi and at Allama Iqbal’s in Lahore.
Special events to pay homage to the martyrs are also being held at all district headquarters. Families of martyrs are participating in the events to commemorate their sacrifices.
Wreath laying ceremonies are also being held at the mausoleums of the recipients of Nishan-e-Haider and are being attended by senior officials of the respective areas across the country.
After fajr, special prayers were offered in mosques for the country’s progress and prosperity. Fateha prayers and Quran Khawani events for the martyrs are also slated to be held later in the day.
On this day, 53 years ago, Indian forces had crossed the international border in the darkness of night to attack Pakistan but the nation foiled the nefarious designs of the enemy.
Change of guard ceremonies
Change of guard ceremonies were held at Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi and at Allama Iqbal’s mausoleum in Lahore.
During the ceremony at the Quaid’s mausoleum, a smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Air Force assumed guard duties.
In Lahore, Garrison Commander Major General Muhammad Aamir laid a floral wreath and offered Fateha.
Meanwhile, a special ceremony to mark Defence Day is in progress at Fortress Stadium in Lahore under the aegis of Pakistan Army.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar is the Chief Guest on the occasion. Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and Corps Commander Lahore Lt Gen Aamir Riaz are attending the ceremony.
Special ceremony held at Naval Headquarters, Islamabad
Pakistan Navy organised a special ceremony at Naval Headquarters in Islamabad.
Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Kaleem Shaukat was the chief guest.
On the occasion, the message of the Naval chief was also read out in which he highlighted the role played by Pakistan Navy in the 1965 was.
PM Imran’s message
Prime Minister Imran Khan in his message to the nation on Defence Day said that the people of Pakistan will leave no stone unturned in defending their motherland.
We stand side-by-side with valiant armed forces of the country, the premier said.
“We will face all challenges while following Quaid-e-Azam’s principles of unity, faith and discipline,” he continued.
PM Imran also paid rich tribute to the martyrs for their sacrifices in defending the motherland and assured their families that every possible step will be taken for their welfare.
“Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence and wants to promote mutual cooperation with the world, including neighbours on the basis of equality,” PM Imran added.
President Mamnoon’s message
President Mamnoon Hussain said that people of Pakistan demonstrated unsurpassed national unity.
In his message, the outgoing president added, “The sacrifices rendered by our valiant armed forces and the nation call for carrying on the spirit of September by forging unity among our ranks and fostering collective consciousness and wisdom as these traits are imperative to defeat the evil designs and conspiracies of the enemy.”
Army chief’s message
Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to the martyrs and their relatives on the occasion.
In a promo released by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief said, “The death of a martyr has kept the country alive.”
DG ISPR’s message
Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted, “It’s ‘Defence and Martyrs Day today. Let’s visit homes of our martyrs. Let’s salute them and their great families. Let’s thank them for their great sacrifices for our country. Great nations never forget their martyrs; we are a great nation.”
It’s ‘Defence & Martyrs Day’ today. Let’s visit homes of our martyrs. Let’s salute them and their great families. Let’s thank them for their great sacrifices for our country. Great nations never forget their martyrs; we are a great nation.#WeLovePakistan
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) September 6, 2018
Politicians, ministers pay tribute to martyrs
Several politicians and ministers paid tribute to martyrs of the 1965 war.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Defence Day serves as a reminder to the enemies that the “armed forces and Pakistani nation were, are and will stay united for the sake of country’s defense, progress, dignity and sovereignty”.
“Today, we will also have to reaffirm our resolve to make Pakistan a welfare and impregnable power whilst emulating the spirit of September war,” Chaudhry added.
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal reiterated the pledge to revive the spirit of unity of September 1965 in confronting new challenges.
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“Pakistan Army is now writing a new chapter of gallantry in the war against terrorism for the stability of the country and are rendering invaluable sacrifices for purging the country of the menace of terrorism,” he added.
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that those who sacrificed their lives for the nation are our heroes and will forever be remembered.
Maryam’s interview “stopped forcefully:” Nadeem Malik
An interview of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a vice president of the PML-N, was “forcefully” taken off air soon after it was run, it was reported on Thursday.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: An interview of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif was taken off air forcefully seconds after it started.
“Just came to know Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s interview has been stopped forcefully just [a] few minutes after it started live,” tweeted show host Nadeem Malik.
Hum News, the channel on which the interview was aired for a few brief moments, released a statement shortly after the incident, saying: “Hum News believes in a free and responsible media. Protecting freedom of expression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect and dignity of [the] judiciary in line with our ethical values and the Constitution.”
The development comes days after AbbTakk TV, 24 News, and Capital TV all had their broadcasts cut after screening a press conference by Maryam Nawaz.
Authorities say the three channels were unavailable due to “technical issues”, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global media watchdog, described the outage as an act of “brazen censorship”.
It slammed the local authorities over the removal of three television channels from the country’s airwaves, saying the move was “indicative of disturbing dictatorial tendencies” as pressure mounts on journalists in Pakistan.
Maryam is the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — who is currently behind bars for corruption — and a recent press conference she hosted featured a judge reportedly claiming he had been blackmailed into convicting the former premier.
The move came as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration vowed to block any media coverage and interviews of politicians “who are convicts and under trial”.
Earlier this month, Geo News TV abruptly took an interview with former president Asif Ali Zardari off air shortly after it began.
Several dead and dozens injured in Pakistan train collision
A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.
RAHIM YAR KHAN, Pakistan: A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.
The incident on Thursday took place at the Walhar railway station, located about 35km south of Rahim Yar Khan.
“The Akbar Express [passenger train] going from Bahawalpur to Quetta hit a freight train that was parked there at 7.40am,” a local police official told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.
Senior police official Umar Salamat told local media the collision took place because the passenger train was diverted onto the incorrect track at the station, hitting the parked freight train.
Rescue operations were under way at the collision site, with workers using equipment to get to some of those trapped in the train wreckage, local media reported.
The injured were taken to a nearby government hospital and to a more advanced facility in Rahim Yar Khan, hospital officials said.
Nine of the dead were taken to the government hospital, with more than 60 people injured in the wreck also treated there, Liaquat Chohan, a senior hospital official, told Al Jazeera.
“The injuries were of multiple types – many had fractures, others had bleeding wounds. Some were crushed under objects,” he said.
At least one dead body was also taken to the Sheikh Zayed hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, where 11 of those wounded in the accident were being treated, hospital official Ilyas Ahmer told Al Jazeera.
“One person’s leg was cut off [in the collision], and another is having serious chest surgery,” he said.
Pakistan’s aging railway network carries both passengers and goods across the country, but suffers periodic derailments and other accidents due to aging infrastructure.
A major Chinese investment in the country is seeking to upgrade the main railway line that connects the length of the country, raising speeds and safety standards.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences for those who were killed and injured, and ordered Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad to speed up work on the country’s rail infrastructure.
“Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure & ensure safety standards,” Khan tweeted after the accident.
Russia denies inviting Imran Khan to Eastern Economic Forum
Russia has conveyed to India that it has not invited Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan/MOSCOW, Russia: Russia has denied inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) to be held in eastern Russian city of Vladivostok in September.
“We draw attention to the publications in a number of South Asian media that the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Imran Khan was invited to the events of the Eastern Economic Forum (WEF-5) in Vladivostok (September 4-6, this year) as the guest of honor. We would like to give some explanations in this regard… We expect that the President of Mongolia H. Battulga, Prime Minister of India N.Modi, Prime Minister of Malaysia M. Mohammad and the Prime Minister ofJapan S. Abe will arrive in the capital of Primorye,” stated Russian Foreign Ministry.
Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Tuesday also termed reports regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Russia as “speculative”.
Taking to Twitter, Dr Faisal said Pakistan and Russia remain in contact about engagement at the highest level.
“Any announcement in this regard would be made formally at [the] appropriate time,” he wrote.
Reports appearing in media about Prime Minister’s participation in Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Russia are speculative. Pakistan and Russia remain in contact about engagement at the highest level. Any announcement in this regard would be made formally at appropriate time.
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@DrMFaisal) July 9, 2019
Sources in the FO earlier told Pakistani media outlets that Prime Minister Imran Khan would join the EEF meeting in Russia on the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The invitation was extended by President Putin during the recently-held Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting that both leaders had attended, the sources had said.
Following the reports, however, Indian media outlets quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the Russian foreign ministry had dismissed reports that PM Imran had been invited for the forum in September, where The Economic Times said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest.
It was not clear whether the FO spokesperson was terming the reports in the Indian media as speculative or those published by the Pakistani media, or both.
His statement comes as Prime Minister Imran is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump on July 22 during an official working visit to Washington.