Defence Day is celebrated as a national day to commemorate the memory of Pakistan’s successful defence against India that marked the ceasefire in the 1965 war on September 6.
The war saw aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) engaging in combat for the first time since independence. Though the two forces had previously faced off in the First Kashmir War during the late 1940s, that engagement was very limited in scale compared to the 1965 conflict.
Many officers sacrificed their lives for the country and were awarded “Nishan-e-Haider” for their acts of exceptional bravery.
Notable mentions include:
Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: Major Aziz Bhatti valiantly defended BRB Canal against the enemy in Lahore’s Burki area in the 1965 war. Bhatti kept the Indian troops from advancing by valiantly fighting along with his forward platoon for five days, braving the Indian artillery and tanks.
He embraced martyrdom after being hit by an enemy tank shell on September 12.
MM Alam: During the war, five Indian fighter planes headed towards PAF Base Sargodha. However, Alam created history by destroying all the five invaders. The fighter jet he flew can still be seen inside Lahore’s Town Hall Park.
He passed away on March 18, 2013, at the age of 78 years.
Cecil Chaudhry: Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry was an academic, human rights activist, and veteran fighter pilot. As a flight lieutenant, he fought in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 and later, as a squadron leader, in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
During the 1965 war, Chaudhry and three other pilots, under the leadership of Wing Commander Anwar Shamim, attacked the Amritsar Radar Station in a difficult operation. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat (Star of Courage) for his actions during that mission.
Major-General Iftikhar Janjua: Iftikhar Janjua, who belonged to the Ahmadi faith, earned the title of ‘Hero of Rann Kutch’ after he captured the Indian part of Rann of Kutch as a Brigade Commander in April 1965, prior to the war.
Lieutenant General Abdul Ali Malik: A member of the Ahmadiyya community, Lt Gen Abdul Ali Malik commanded the 24th Infantry Brigade during the Chawinda Confrontation in 1965.
Air Vice Marshal Eric Gordon Hall: During 1965 war, Hall served as the founding chairman of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission and planned the dramatic adventure ‘Hercules Bomber’. He received the Hilal-e-Jurat, Hilal-e-Imtiaz, and Sitara-e-Jurat for his services.
Muhammad Akram: Akram participated in 1965 Indo-Pak September War as a Captain where he led several successful military operations against the Indian Army. While stationed in Lahore, Akram commanded a small company which led several decisive operations against the Indian Armed Forces.
Later, he was awarded Pakistan military’s highest decoration, the Nishan-e-Haider, for his actions during the 1971 Indo-Pak War.
Shabbir Sharif: Rana Shabbir Sharif was a Pakistani Army officer. He is the only person to receive both the Nishan-e-Haider and Sitara-e-Jurat for his bravery.
He lost his life on December 6, 1971, in the line of action.
Muhammad Hussain Janjua: Sowar Muhammad Hussain being the part of Pakistan Army was in the 20th Lancers Armoured regiment, when war broke out in 1971, Sawar Muhammad Hussain took an active part in every battle in which his unit was engaged unmindful of any danger, no matter how grave.
He was hit in the chest by a burst of machine-gun fire and embraced martyrdom on December 10, 1971, at the age of 22.