PAKISTAN (ISLAMABAD): Pakistan Day is being celebrated across the country today (Saturday) with traditional zeal and fervour.
A joint military parade was held at Parade Ground in Islamabad. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is on a three-day visit to the country, was the guest of honour at the parade.
Top civil-military leadership, including President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and the chiefs of Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force witnessed the parade. The Minister of Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov, Commander National Guard of Bahrain Sheikh Mohamed Bin Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, federal ministers, including Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, foreign diplomats and a large number of people from all walks of life, including media and sports, were also in attendance.
After the guests assembled on the stage, the parade began with the national anthem which was followed by a recitation of the Holy Quran.
Parade Commander Brigadier Naseem Anwar then requested the president to observe the parade.
Pakistan Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan then led a flypast as a salute to the president. Various jets demonstrated aerobatic feats for the audience which began with the formation of four JF-17 Thunder fighter jets and were followed by Mirage, F-7PG and other fighter aircraft.
Following the flypast, President Alvi addressed the parade and said, “March 23 is that milestone of our national history in which Muslims of the subcontinent aimed for their liberation through Pakistan Resolution.”
President Alvi said, “Pakistan respects the sovereignty of all countries’ sovereignty and wishes peace but our desire for peace should not be mistaken as a sign of weakness.” Speaking about the recent escalation in tensions between the two countries, the president said, “Pakistan is a reality and India will have to accept and should not make the mistake to view it in the pre-partition light. Doing so would be very dangerous for the region’s stability.”
“Instead of wars, we should focus on providing health, education and employment. Our real war is against unemployment and poverty.” Dr Alvi added, “Responding to Indian aggression was our right. Through our plan of action we responded to India immediately and effectively,” he added. “We responded to the enemy befittingly,” he reiterated. The president stated, “Being a democratic nation, Pakistan believes in dialogue.”
Following the president’s speech, contingents of Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Pakistan Rangers, Northern Light Infantry, and others held a march-past. Various contingents from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey are also participating in the parade.
After the march-past, contingents of armoured and mechanised infantry, including the Al-Khalid and Al Zarrar tanks, a variety of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) as well as howitzer guns were paraded. Radar systems and other modern weaponry were also rolled out.
Pakistan Rangers band then played national songs on bagpipes while riding camels.
Cultural delegates and floats from Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir also featured during the ceremony.
Following the cultural floats, combat and attack helicopters and jets belonging to the armed forces and PAF, as well as the Chinese aerobatics team, mesmerised the audience with their manoeuvres.
Skydivers of airborne units of the three armed forces as well as paratroopers from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka took part in free-fall jumps and showcased their skills.
The parade concluded with a performance of the Pakistan Day anthem by Sahir Ali Bagga after flags of various countries were presented to the Malaysian premier, PM Imran and President Alvi.