Closing off the holy month of Ramzan, Eid marks the culmination of a period of trial, austerity and abstinence; and is traditionally celebrated as a day of festivities. The great mass of Muslims all over the world have successfully braved the temptations of the body to attain purification of the soul and I extend to them my heartiest greetings on this sacred occasion.
But the tribulations of the Muslim world are far from being over; everywhere we are faced with a struggle for vindication of our rights. Thousands of Arab refugees, for instance, are languishing in camps across Palestinian deserts and the toll of human suffering mounts with every raid on Arab lands around Israel.
Eid can bring no festivities to the enslaved, he bereaved and the homeless. Nor can it bring any happiness to the families of over 85, 000 Pakistani soldiers and civilians held as prisoners of war in India. The hostilities ended nearly a year ago and they should have been back home within weeks, if not days. But sadly enough, they are still there, held in violation of all canons of humane conduct, in the isolation of camps, hundreds of miles away from their kith and kin. Are they being held as hostages for political concessions? What political concessions can anyone squeeze out of a country whose women and children have refused to put the love for their husbands, fathers and sons above the love for their county’s honour?
I salute the brave families of the brave soldiers and civilians for their patriotism and fortitude and assure them that they are not alone in their suffering. The nation shares their feelings and will not indulge in the traditional festivities of Eid until their valiant sons are back home amidst them.
We shall reserve our rejoicings until then. Whatever is saved through austerity on the present occasion will be dedicated to the welfare of our prisoners of war and their families. This is a measure of our resolve to uphold our national honour, integrity and sovereignty at all costs, in all circumstances.