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No military parades anymore

August 25, 2012

THIS is apropos of supplement ‘Azadi Parade at PMA, Kakul’ (Aug 14).

Independence Day parades were initially held in Karachi (then Pakistan’s capital) in 1947-48. Now it is held in Kakul, a suburb of Distt Abbotabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Though there has been a change of venues from time to time, public participation and other essential constituents in these events have somewhat reduced.

Independence Day parades were not only held at Karachi but also at all the provincial capitals like Dacca, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta with full participation of not only the three armed forces but also by contingents of Police, Qaumi Razakaars, student scouts, Girl Guides and some other organisations as well.

When General Ayub Khan shifted the capital to Islamabad, the venue of these annual parades became the Race Course Ground in Rawalpindi near the Army’s GHQ, where public participation was still visible but in reduced numbers as compared to Karachi.

Now, Independence Day parades at other provincial capitals seem to have faded, leaving no opportunity for public participation. Whether it was a deliberate move on the part of the successive governments is anybody’s guess.

From the Race Course Ground Rawalpindi, the parade began taking place at the main boulevard of the Blue Area Islamabad in the rule of Gen Zia ul Haq.

While march past and fly past were staged there, there was no participation of the Police, Razakars, Scouts, Girl-Guides and most importantly, any sizeable public due to security reasons.

Ironically, we could not continue with the ritual of the armed forces’ Independence Day Parade at Islamabad for long.

The threat of terrorist attacks dampened our spirits, forcing us to abandon even the much anticipated celebration. All this has happened in the name of national security.

Now the venue chosen to celebrate the Azadi Parade is the village Kakul, farthest from Karachi.

Azadi Parades and their venues notwithstanding, the people of Pakistan seem to have lost the hope to live in peace and prosperity.

G. ASGHAR MALIK Former IGP, Punjab Lahore