Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir said on Thursday that the nation will “neither forgive nor forget” those involved in “desecrating memorials of martyrs and harming their dignity”.
The army chief’s remarks came the nation marks the Youm-i-Takreem Shuhada-i-Pakistan (Martyrs’ Reverence Day). Earlier this week, Gen Munir had condemned the attack on military installations and memorials on May 9 — when violent protests broke out in the country following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan — as intolerable and announced that tribute would be paid to the country’s martyrs today (May 25).
In this regard, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said a number of commemorative ceremonies were held at martyrs’ memorials. A ceremony was also held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi earlier in the day where COAS Munir and his predecessor, retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa, were in attendance.
According to a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) today, the army chief visited the Islamabad Police Lines where he was received by Police Inspector General Dr Akbar Nasir Khan.
He met police officers and the families of the martyrs.
In an address during the ceremony, COAS Munir said that what happened on May 9 was “extremely regrettable and condemnable”.
“The Pakistan Army, police, and law enforcement agencies are symbols of the state and a defence line that do not hesitate in rendering any sacrifice for the dignity of the country and nation,” the military’s media wing quoted him as saying.
“Gen Munir told to the families of the martyrs that the people of Pakistan and the Pakistan Army stand and will continue to stand with the families of the martyrs of all the law enforcement agencies,” the statement added.
PM says ‘tragic’ events of May 9 a ‘wake-up call for us’
In a statement on Twitter, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the “tragic and heart-rending” events of May 9 were a “wake-up call for us”, adding that all those who wanted to destroy the foundations of Pakistan needed to be identified and exposed.
“Today the nation is solemnly observing Youm-i-Takreem Shuhada-i-Pakistan to pay its glowing tributes to our heroes, ghazis, and martyrs and express its unflinching solidarity with their families,” he said.
“I don’t see the tragic incidents of May 9 as merely a protest that became violent. The designs of those who planned them were actually very sinister.
“There was a clear build-up to the shameful incidents, as the whole nation witnessed in utter disbelief and a state of shock how the lust of some people for power made them do what was never done before,” he said.
“By targeting, desecrating and destroying the monuments of shuhada, and attacking the very symbols of the state, the miscreants attacked the idea and identity of Pakistan and gave the enemies of the country reasons to celebrate,” the prime minister said.
“Our nation knows how to protect the honour of their martyrs. The tragic and heart-rending events of May 9 are a wake-up call for us. We have to identify and expose all such people who want to destroy the foundations of Pakistan. May 9 has drawn up a dividing line between the protectors and builders of Pakistan and those who wish to weaken it,” he said.
The prime minister said that today the nation revived and reiterated its pledge to uphold the honour and respect of the country’s martyrs.
“The essence of Pakistan’s existence lies in the spiritual covenant between its people and the martyrs. The creation of Pakistan is a miracle of the 20th century and its edifice stands on the sure foundation of their sacred blood. We will never be able to thank them enough,” he said.
President says entire nation proud of martyrs
In his message, President Dr Arif Alvi said that today was being observed to pay tribute to the “unprecedented courage and sacrifices of our ancestors and personnel of our security forces who have rendered great sacrifices for the motherland”.
“The integrity and security of our country would not have been possible without their valuable services,” President Alvi said.
“The entire nation is proud of our valiant martyrs who displayed the spirit of patriotism and fearlessness in testing times throughout our history. Apart from defending the frontiers of the country, our security forces successfully defeated the menace of terrorism. Pakistan single-handedly contained the scourge of terrorism due to the bravery and sacrifices of its forces.
“We should not forget that even during natural calamities and pandemics, our security forces stood shoulder to shoulder with their people and provided timely relief and assistance to their fellow countrymen,” he said.
President Alvi further said that he regularly contacted the families of martyrs. “During my interactions with them, I feel proud over their spirit of patriotism towards the motherland. The entire nation acknowledges their contributions towards the defence of the nation and salutes them for laying down their lives for the motherland,” he said.
He went on to say that Pakistan was facing “various challenges” and unity was needed to overcome them.
“Let us pledge on this day that we will never forget our valiant martyrs and reiterate our commitment to always honour them and express our undying love for these brave sons and daughters of the nation,” he said.