A ceremony to commemorate Pakistan's 53rd Defence Day and pay tribute to the martyrs of the 1965 war was held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
Prime Minister Imran Khan accompanied by First Lady Bushra Imran was in attendance along with Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and other civil and military leaders.
Also in attendance were school children, family members of the martyrs and people from different walks of life, including parliamentarians, media representatives, celebrities and sportsmen.
A smartly outfitted group of soldiers put on an enthralling march performance to the tune of traditional songs played by the marching band of the armed forces.
Following the performance, Gen Bajwa took the stage to deliver his address on the occasion, after which the chief guest, PM Imran Khan was invited to speak.
Strong rule of law needed to prosper as a nation, says PM Khan
Addressing the ceremony as the chief guest, PM Khan mentioned that Pakistan Army was the "only institution (in the country) that works on the basis of merit".
"We will bring this meritocracy to all fields in the country in order to help us prosper as a nation," the premier vowed.
The prime minister also mentioned that all fields in the country including agriculture will prosper once we develop a strong rule of law in the country.
PM Khan took advantage of the occasion to clarify that there was no such thing as civil-military tension, "there is one common goal, that is to solve the problems of this nation".
“This nation will rise when the poor man knows that his son is getting quality education on the state's expense and that education will open opportunities for his son to achieve success in life. That is when the common man will want to become part of this system and own it,” the prime minister said.
“For the past three weeks, I have been seeing presentations on all the problems that this country is facing, and I can tell you this that we will become a nation and rise again. We can overcome these problems once we strengthen the rule of law in this country," PM Khan said.
Going back to the history of Islam, PM Khan said that we need to look at the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought together different tribes to form a nation.
“We need to look back and see what Prophet (PBUH) did in order to bring those people together to form a nation so strong that they ruled the world for centuries."
'Sacrifices of valiant soldiers will not go unacknowledged'
"All of you gathered here today gives credence to the fact that we are all united in our efforts to defend Pakistan," said Gen Bajwa while addressing the ceremony.
"September 6, 1965, is an important day in the history of our nation. It is the day when the armed forces, with the full support of the nation, defeated an evil adversary. Every Pakistani was the nation's soldier. We were all united to defend our country and played our respective roles. Our soldiers jumped into the fiery pits of warfare but did not let our nation be harmed," he said, adding that the bravery shown by our nation during the 65 war serves as an important lesson and an inspiration to our youth even today.
"We have learned a lot from the wars of 65 and 71. We were able to further strengthen our defence forces in the wake of these wars. Despite difficult economic times, we were able to become an atomic power.
"Then began the period of non-traditional warfare. Over the past two decades, a wave of terrorism swept the world. The characteristics of war were forever changed. Unfortunately, Pakistan also found itself in the crosshairs of this new war.
"Our armed forces and the entire nation have learned much during their service to Pakistan. Fear and terrorism were thrust upon us. Our homes, schools, places of worship, recreational sites and national institutions were attacked.
"Efforts were made to weaken and divide us from within. But I salute all the citizens of Pakistan and the ones safeguarding our nation who fought remarkably in these difficult times and stood against such elements.
"We have all successfully fought against this extremist narrative. In this war, more than 76,000 Pakistanis were martyred or injured. To remember these sacrifices we not only celebrate Defence Day but since 2014 also celebrate Martyr's Day.
"We have sacrificed a lot but our job is not done. The war is still ongoing. We have yet to reach the pinnacle of peace. We have to make Pakistan reach a level where no one can look at us with an evil intent," Gen Bajwa said in his stirring speech.
The army chief went on to say that for the country's stability and progress, democracy is of utmost importance. "Democracy cannot blossom without observing the democratic traditions in true spirit and without the strengthening of institutions," he maintained.
"We have set on this path ten years ago," he said adding that: "Today we are more united and more resolute. This is a message that Pakistanis are not ones to fear any crisis and will soar to new heights soon."
Prominent politicians including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto were also present along with senior military leadership.
The chiefs of Navy and Air Force also attended the ceremony along with several diplomats and ambassadors.
In addition, sports personalities including cricketers Shahid Afridi and Zaheer Abbas along with Olympian Shahbaz Senior and squash champion Jahangir Khan were seen among those attending.
Among those to host the event were Humayun Saeed, Maya Ali and Hareem Farooq.
The ceremony began with a recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by the national anthem.
A short film showing the families of martyred soldiers remembering their sons left members of the audience in tears.
Singer Sahir Ali Bagga opened the ceremony with a patriotic song, as a video paying tribute to the armed forces played in the background.
A moving video showcasing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's vocal prowess was also played.
Other entertainers also took the stage as the evening progressed, and a series of short films and videos were shown to the audience.
Earlier today, Defence Day was commemorated with traditional fervour and solemnity across the country, beginning with special prayers for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.
Change of guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Allama Iqbal in Lahore and Quaid-i-Azam in Karachi, and a ceremony at the Pakistan Navy headquarters in Islamabad.