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We have commitment to stand by our people and protect our interests: Imran Khan

07 September, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said Pakistan will not fight anyone else’s war, adding that all institutions were determined to work together to safeguard country’s own interests.

“Pakistan will never participate in anyone’s war. We have a commitment to stand by our people and protect our interests,” Imran Khan said in his address to the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony on the lawns of the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army. Rubbishing the myth of a civil-military divide in the country, the prime minister said the Pakistani nation was destined to rise as all state institutions were determined to work together. “We both [civil, military] have a common goal and that is to take this country forward. There is a myth of civil-military rift. There is no such issue. We have to elevate this country. Our life and death is for this country,” he said.

The prime minister, however, stressed that to make the country strong, “we will have to strengthen our weak institutions, ensure merit and follow the golden principles laid down by our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).”

He said the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) had built a leading nation out of disintegrated Arab tribes living in deserts that later ruled the world for centuries. Within a short span of time, he said, the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had empowered his nation to defeat the then Roman and Persian empires. “We have been asked to learn from the basic principles of that ideal state which included justice, meritocracy, education and equality.”

The prime minister said Pakistan was faced with the issues of foreign loans and water and power shortages but he was confident that it would rise as a great nation where every poor would have opportunities at par with the rich and the influential besides enjoying easy justice, free medical treatment and equal opportunities for education of their children. He reiterated his government’s resolve to uplift the national institutions and said the provision of education and health facilities to out-of-school children and those with stunted growth was the government’s responsibility as they also had equal rights to live a successful life. He said Pakistan was rich in natural resources, including gas, minerals like copper, fertile land and deep oceans, but the only need was the elevation of national institutions.

The prime minister saluted the valour and sacrifices of the armed forces which stood strong against all odds to safeguard the interests of the country in the aftermath of the 9/11 and the unconventional war that followed. He paid tribute to the Pakistan Army for ridding the country of terrorism.

Imran Khan said after getting initial briefings from various ministries and departments, he had no doubt in admitting that the institution of the armed forces was intact and functioning. He attributed it to lack of political interference and upholding of merit and professionalism. He said the country had undergone an ordeal during the war against terrorism, but its army and intelligence agencies had steered it out of the issue. He said following a six-hour-long briefing at the GHQ, he came to the conclusion that of all the institutions only the army remained intact as an institution just because it maintained professionalism and meritocracy, which were the guarantors for the success of any institution.

Addressing the families of the martyred soldiers, Imran Khan said their dear and near ones, who had sacrificed their lives for the nation’s security, had been ranked after prophets by Allah Almighty. He said the martyrs had the honour of being on the second highest tiers of honour after the prophets.

The prime minister recalled that he was just 12 years old in 1965 and had picked up his father’s gun to join his relatives to fight the Indian paratroopers who were feared to have landed on Pakistan’s soil on September 7 that year. He said had he not gone into cricket, he would have been a retired soldier today.

Flanked by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Prime Minister Imran Khan witnessed the around two-hour-long event along with his wife. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif were also present.

The tales of valour of the martyrs and their courageous families, who were bravely coping with their losses, brought tears to the eyes of even the hardened military brass, but at the same time it also strengthened their resolve to render any sacrifice to protect the country’s freedom. The prime minister was no exception.

The nation on Thursday marked Defence and Martyrs Day with traditional zeal and fervor to pay tribute to the martyrs across the country. The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salute in provincial capitals. A change of guard ceremony was held at the mausoleums of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi and Allama Iqbal in Lahore.

Special events to pay homage to the martyrs were also held at all district headquarters. Families of martyrs participated in the events to commemorate their sacrifices.Wreath laying ceremonies were also held at the mausoleums of the recipients of Nishan-e-Haider and were attended by senior officials of the respective areas across the country.

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