Pakistani Navy soldiers march past the Nasr solid fuelled tactical ballistic missile system during Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on Saturday. Reuters
ISLAMABAD: The nation celebrated Pakistan Day across the country with traditional zeal and a renewed commitment to work hard for the progress and prosperity of the motherland.
A grand military parade was held on Saturday to mark the Pakistan Day, March 23, where Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the guest of honour.
The Malaysian leader especially visited Pakistan to participate in the event and left after a three-day trip on the conclusion of the parade.
The Pakistan Day commemorates the passing of the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940, when the Muslims of the sub-continent set the agenda of a separate homeland for themselves.
The annual parade was attended by President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and civil and military leadership as well as foreign dignitaries including Minister of Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan Colonel General Zakir Hasanov, Chief of Army Staff of Bahrain, government officials from Oman and contingents from China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
Chief guest President Dr Alvi was the last personality to join the assortment of leaders and dignitaries on stage. He was escorted by the president’s body guards — Lieutenant Colonel Rab Nawaz Tiwana and Major Waqas Abbas Khan.
The parade showcased cultures of all the four provinces. Cultural delegates and floats from Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir featured during the ceremony.
The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad while provincial capitals welcomed the day with 21-gun salutes. Special prayers were offered in mosques for the progress, prosperity and solidarity of the country and national flag was hoisted at all major government buildings.
Planes belonging to Army Aviation and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) demonstrated aerobatic feats for the audience. Commandos of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and Frontier Constabulary conducted the march-past in their unique style and the PAF carried out the fly-past. Similarly, combat and attack helicopters as well as skydivers of airborne units from the three armed forces showcased their skills.
Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan led a fly-past as a salute to the president. Following the Air Chief, a formation of four JF-17 Thunder fighter jets of the PAF demonstrated its aerial prowess. They were followed by similar formations of Mirage, F-7PG and other fighter aircraft.
A spectacular display of fireworks was arranged at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore to mark the day. A huge number of citizens flocked to the scene to be mesmerized.
Change of guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi and Dr Allama Iqbal in Lahore.
An investiture ceremony was held at Aiwan-e-Sadr where the President of Pakistan conferred civil awards on individuals demonstrating feats in different fields of science and arts. As many as 170 personalities, including some foreigners, have been selected for this year’s awards.
Radio Pakistan, Pakistan Television as well as private TV channels aired special programmes to highlight the struggle of the forefathers for a separate homeland as well as the importance of the Day.
Following the fly-past demonstrations, President Alvi addressed the ceremony. He congratulated the nation on the national day and said that “March 23 is that milestone of our national history in which the Muslims of the subcontinent aimed for their liberation through Pakistan Resolution.”
The president noted that Pakistan’s sovereignty had been challenged in the past and “wars were imposed on us” but lauded the nation for fighting off those setbacks. “
Pakistan respects all the countries’ sovereignty and wishes peace” but made it clear that the “desire for peace should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness.”
Alvi said that it would by myopic of the Indian leadership and a mistake for them to view Pakistan in the pre-partition light. “Doing so would be very dangerous for the region’s stability,” he said. “Instead of wars, we should focus on education, health, hunger, employment and extremist mindset. Our real war is against unemployment and poverty. It’s time to set Pakistan on the path towards prosperity and growth. That would be the greatest tribute for the martyrs and ghazis of the country.”
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