Pakistan Day: Armed forces show off military might as OIC officials watch
As the country celebrates Pakistan Day on Wednesday, the armed forces displayed their might in the annual military parade in Islamabad while dignitaries participating in the 48th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) watched as guests of honour.
Pakistan Day commemorates the passing of the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940, when the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate nation for the Muslims of the British Indian Empire.
According to Radio Pakistan, the day started off with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and a 21-gun salute in the provincial capitals.
A change of guards ceremony was also held at the mausoleums of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.
The report added that special prayers were offered in mosques after Fajr prayer for Pakistan's progress and prosperity.
The main feature of the day was the grand military parade in Islamabad in which the three contingents of the armed forces and other security forces conducted a march while fighter planes presented aerobatic manoeuvres.
Troops from other countries, including Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, also participated in the parade.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi, the three services chiefs, federal ministers as well as officials and foreign ministers of 57 Muslim countries that are members of the OIC were present for the displays.
After the PAF fighters' mesmerising show, Pakistan Army, PAF and Navy paratroopers demonstrated their skills with free-falls from 10,000 feet. Major General Adil Rehmani, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Special Service Group (SSG) – an elite unit of commandos from the army – then presented the flag of Pakistan to President Alvi, after which the paratroopers were given a gun salute.
Later, floats representing each province took a round of the venue. This year, for the first time ever, a presentation was given by Jammu and Kashmir too. The region's float featured a miniature structure of the famous Dargah Hazratbal located in Srinagar. It also carried banners of freedom fighters who were martyred in Indian occupied Kashmir.
In his address on the occasion, President Alvi said Pakistan was a responsible atomic power that wanted peace with all other nations and respected their sovereignty.
He made it clear that Pakistan would never compromise on its security and sovereignty and would give a forceful response to any aggression directed towards it. "I believe our nation won't hesitate from any sacrifice for the country's security," Alvi added.
The president highlighted extremism and the spread of fake news as among the biggest challenges facing society and called on scholars, parents and teachers to play their part in tackling these societal problems.
Multiple organisations and departments have planned a number of activities including seminars, conferences and discussion programmes to highlight the historical significance of Pakistan Day.
'Hard work, honesty and morality'
In his message to the nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed that the country came into being after a long democratic struggle and the key to its development lay in "hard work, honesty and morality".
"We need to adhere to the principles of Unity, Faith and Discipline given by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and rededicate ourselves to develop Pakistan as a truly democratic welfare state on the model of Riyasat-i-Madina. On this day, it is pertinent to reflect upon the challenges confronting us as a nation," he said.
The premier added his government had brought in long-term reforms and initiatives to alleviate poverty and promote justice and its focus remained on the marginalised segments of society and how to provide them equal opportunities.
“We are now on the path to regain our past glory that was disrupted by previous regimes who gave importance to self-interests rather than national interest and welfare of the people.
"The struggle to eliminate corruption and improve moral standards would require the same persistence as our founding fathers persevered during the freedom movement,” the prime minister said.
In a tweet later in the day, PM Imran said his party and government "are committed to carry forward the vision of our Quaid Jinnah for a just society & a sovereign welfare state".