ISLAMABAD: Though a high level of vigilance exists on the borders with India, Pakistan’s armed forces still managed to present an impressive show of their might during a colourful Pakistan Day parade at Shakarparian grounds here on Saturday.
The well-rehearsed event featuring troops from the three armed services, fighter aircraft, tanks, missiles, radars and other military equipment was the main programme of the countrywide celebrations held to commemorate the 79th anniversary of the adoption of a resolution by the All India Muslim League on this day in 1940 in Lahore, which is seen as the first step towards creation of Pakistan as a separate homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent.
Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the guest of honour at the show which was also attended by Defence Minister of Azerbaijan Gen Zakir Hasanov Asgar Oglu, besides President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, members of the federal cabinet and the services chiefs — Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Hayat, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi.
Holding of parade despite tension at borders depicts high spirits of nation and its desire for peace, says president
A large number of foreign diplomats and people belonging to different segments of society also witnessed the nearly three-hour long ceremony on a pleasant and cloudy day.
The ceremony started with a flypast of F-16 jet by Air Chief Mujahid Anwar Khan. The fighter aircraft which participated in the flypast included JF-17 Thunder, F-16, Mirage and F-7.
The participation of representatives of armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Brunei, Sri Lanka and Azerbaijan and spectacular aerobics by fighter aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force, Turkey and China were the main highlights of the ceremony held amid highest security measures in the federal capital.
The floats depicting culture and lifestyle of the people living in the four provinces, besides Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, also took part in the parade, which concluded with paratroopers landing right in front of the main dais, carrying flags of the participating countries and different services of the Pakistani armed forces.
At the tail end of the parade, a Pakistan Rangers band played national songs on bagpipes while riding camels in unison.
Several formations of a variety of combat helicopters belonging to the Pakistan armed forces demonstrated their capabilities before fighter jets of the PAF, Turkey and China mesmerised the spectators with their mid-air manoeuvres.
The final segment of the programme was a display of paratroopers parachuting off of helicopters and landing on their specified targets.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Dr Arif Alvi praised the country’s armed forces for their effective and befitting response to India in the aftermath of the Pulwama incident which was “our right and the duty.”
He said India put the blame of the Pulwama incident on Pakistan without any evidence and created a war-like situation through its threatening statements. Pakistan, he said, used its right of defence and retaliated against Indian aggression with an effective strategy and response after Indian jets violated the country’s air space. With their effective response, the armed forces had not only fulfilled their responsibility, but also proved their capabilities and supremacy, the president noted.
Holding of the parade despite tension at borders also depicted the high spirits of the country and the nation as well as their desire for peace, he said.
“The message of today’s parade is that we are a peaceful nation, but not oblivious to our defence,” President Alvi added.
He said Pakistan was a reality, which should be accepted by India as its short-sighted and imprudent approach was dangerous for regional peace.
He said Pakistan was a strong and peaceful nuclear state and an emerging economic power which believed in peaceful co-existence and did not want war. “But our desire for peace should not be misconstrued as our weakness,” he declared.
“Pakistan, Alhamdulillah (thanks God), is now safe,” the president said while stressing the need for waging a war against hunger, poverty, illness and extremism.
President Alvi said Pakistan was the only nation which had fought a long war against terrorism and successfully confronted the biggest challenge of the history by skilfully and strategically defeating terrorists through courage and commitment.
He said Pakistan desired a peaceful and sovereign Afghanistan, and would continue to play its role for achieving the objective.
Earlier, the president reviewed the parade in an open jeep, before returning to the main dais for receiving Salami (salute) from different columns of the armed forces.
The day began with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad while provincial capitals marked the day with 21-gun salutes.
Malaysian PM departs
Soon after the ceremony, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who had arrived in the capital on Thursday evening, drove straight to the Nur Khan airbase to return to his country. He was seen off by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Before boarding his aircraft, the Malaysian prime minister was given a briefing about the light weight, all weather and multi-role JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft. Wearing a flying jacket, the visiting dignitary also inspected the cockpit of the aircraft and was briefed about its technical details by the PAF officers.
Malaysia has shown interest in procuring JF-17 aircraft, jointly developed by Pakistan and China.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2019