ISLAMABAD, Sept 6: Setting aside political rows for a while, the National Assembly plunged into a flash of patriotic fervour on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the 1965 war with India, on the eve of a new session of India-Pakistan peace process.
On what is known as Defence Day, lawmakers across party lines saluted Pakistani soldiers’ sacrifices in their second war with India over Kashmir, with Interior Minister Rehman Malik reiterating his promise to expose what he called a “very big conspiracy” he said was being executed by militants to destabilise the country with the main target being Pakistan’s nuclear capability.
But there were also some voices of criticism of generals for seizing power or engaging in adventures like the 1999 conflict in the Kargil region of Kashmir and of counsel for a peaceful resolution of disputes with India.
Defence Minister Naveed Qamar spoke briefly to pay homage to armed forces’ sacrifices and for standing alert to protect Pakistan borders before moving a brief resolution agreed by all parties, which was adopted unanimously.
The draft said: “This house acknowledges 6th September as the Defence Day of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, salutes the valour and unparalleled sacrifice of the courageous individuals martyred in the line of duty, and pays tribute to the patriots who valiantly protected and continue to protect Pakistan and its borders against unprovoked aggression.”
The unusual move came before Pakistan and India are to begin an annual review of a protracted peace process with talks between their foreign secretaries on Friday and between foreign ministers on Saturday.
While praising the armed forces for defending Pakistan’s borders, the interior minister turned towards militants and named some of their leaders who he said were training fighters in Afghanistan and sending them across the border to destabilise the country and the government.
But he said the real motivation of the perceived conspiracy was to harm Pakistan’s nuclear capability, promising to expose the sources and recipients of “dollars” coming to fund the plan.
The chief whip of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, Sheikh Aftab Ahmad, said some generals had tried to tarnish the military’s image by their actions against democracy but he added that the armed forces continued to remain “the jhoomar (decoration) on our forehead”.
While about 10 other speakers — including Asif Hasnain of the MQM, Sardar Bahadur Ahmed Khan Sihar of the PML-Q, and Minister of State for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill — were all praise for the armed forces’ role in defending the country, Pervez Khan Kattak of the ANP and Zafar Ali Shah of the PPP both called for peacefully settling disputes with India.