Pakistan on Monday held a military parade in the capital Islamabad after a gap of seven years as the main feature of the country’s Republic Day.
The Pakistan Day is celebrated on March 23 every year to mark the adoption of a resolution that demanded the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of British India on the same day in 1940. The resolution was passed in the meeting of All-India Muslim League in the city of Lahore.
The military parade could not be held since 2008 in view of security threats. However, the incumbent Army Chief General Raheel Sharif decided to hold the parade.
Smartly turned out contingents of the army, navy, air force, paramilitary troops, police, frontier corps and special services group (commandos) took part in the parade. Women army officers also participated in the parade for the first time.
Fighter jets from the army aviation, including F-16 and JF-17 Thunder, and military gunship helicopters presented a fantastic air display over the parade ground at Shakarparian that lies on a low hill between the capital Islamabad and Rawalpindi city. Paratroopers’ jumping out of airplanes was an amazing feature of the parade.
Various types of nuclear-capable missiles were also shown during the parade. Cultural Floats of the four provinces also gave a color to the parade.
President Mamnoon Hussain was the chief guest on the occasion while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the army chief also witnessed the parade. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmoud and services chiefs were also present on the occasion.
Thousands of people witnessed the parade at a time when tight security measures had been taken in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Mobile service was blocked as a security measure as militants use mobile in terrorist attacks.
Addressing the parade President Mamnoon Hussain said the government will rid Pakistan of terrorism, militancy, ethnicity and sectarianism to ensure a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan.
“Pakistan wants peaceful relations with all countries particularly the neighbors. Pakistan desires a peaceful settlement of all issues with India, including Kashmir,” the president said. He said Pakistan wants to build cordial ties with Afghanistan and maintain peace internationally.
The president said the armed forces have launched an offensive in North Waziristan tribal region against terrorists and are waging the most difficult war of the history.
He referred to the Taliban’s savage attack on a army-run school and killing of 150 children and staff members in December last year and said the brutal attack united the whole nation against terrorism.
Paying great homage to the martyrs of the security forces, the president said the nation is proud of its sons who sacrificed their lives for the country.
The Pakistan Day dawned with 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salutes in provincial capitals as part of the celebrations. It is a public holiday and national flag is being hoisted on major government buildings.
All TV channels are airing special programs to highlight importance of the day. Newspapers have brought out special supplements.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his special message urged people to show unity to frustrate designs of the terrorists and inimical forces.
The prime minister said that the anti-state elements threatening Pakistan were out to threaten not only the lives but also the very fabric of Pakistani nation but the Pakistanis had irrevocably stood up to the challenge and resolved never to give in.