Pakistan celebrated the 78th National Day with a grand military parade in Islamabad and a renewed commitment for peace and prosperity.
The day dawned with 31-gun salute in the capital and 21-gun salutes in the provincial capitals. Special prayers were held across the country and the national flag was hoisted on all government buildings and departments.
23rd March commemorates the passing of the Lahore Resolution 1940 which is the adoption of the demand of a separate state for Muslims of South Asia.
The main ceremony of the day was held in Islamabad where the guest of honour for the national day event, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena witnessed the magnificent ceremony.
The highlights of the Pakistan Day parade were contingents from the armed forces of Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan. UAE military paraded along with Pakistan armed forces for the first time. Jordan’s military band performance received great appreciation from the audience.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee Zubair Mehmood Hayat as well a large number of officials and several diplomats attended the Pakistan Day ceremony.
Contingents of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, and Pakistan Navy held a march-past and a salute to the president of Pakistan. Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan led a fly-past as a salute to the president.
Troops from Frontier Corps, Pakistan Rangers, Northern Light Infantry, Mujahid Battalion, Tri Services Lady Officers, Tri Services Armed Forces Nursing Services, Special Services Group, and President Bodyguards also took part in the parade.
Army Aviation and Pakistan Air Force’s airplanes showcased enthralling aerobatic skills on the occasion.
The combat and attack helicopters and skydivers of airborne units of the Pakistan Armed Forces demonstrated stunning skills. The fighter jets of Pakistan Air Force, which took part in the fly-past included F-16 Fighting Falcon, JF-17 Thunder, Mirage and other surveillance aircraft.
Following the soldiers, Pakistan Army tanks, including the Al Khalid and Al Zarrar, presented gun salutes to the president. Radar systems and other weapons equipped with military technology were displayed. The NASR missile, the Shaheen missile, the Ghauri missile system, and the Babur cruise missile were also featured in the parade.
Following the military segment, various troupes depicting the country’s culture from Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir joined the parade.
Peace is the core of Pakistan’s foreign policy: President
President Mamnoon Hussain, in his speech, welcomed the Sri Lankan president, and troops from Turkey, Jordan, and the UAE to the parade.
Mr Mamnoon said that “cooperation for international peace is the base of the country’s foreign policy.” Islamabad also extends a hand of cooperation to the regional countries but taking the gesture as a weakness will be a dangerous mistake, the president added.
President Hussain strongly condemned India for its irresponsible behaviour, denouncing the Indian army’s attacks from across the Line of Control and Working Boundary. “The only solution to the dispute of Kashmir is providing the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people, and Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard,” he said.
Indian diplomats attend Parade ceremony
In a surprising move, three senior officials of the Indian High Commission attended the military parade, these include Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh and Military Attaché Brig. P. Vishwasrao.
It is for the first time, Indian Defence Attache and senior diplomats of the Indian High Commission to join March 23 celebrations.
The move is seen as an initiative from Pakistan to send a peace message to India.