Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan stand during the national anthem at a ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan on Saturday. Reuters
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan celebrated its national day on Saturday with a military parade showcasing its missiles, tanks and aircraft, even as the prime minister and his Indian counterpart exchanged goodwill messages in a sign of easing tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered “best wishes” to his counterpart Imran Khan ahead of Saturday’s celebrations. Khan welcomed the statement late on Friday and called for a comprehensive dialogue on all issues, including the disputed Kashmir region.
Tensions between India and Pakistan flared last month after a suicide attack killed 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir. The Indian air force launched an airstrike inside Pakistan, saying it was targeting militants it blamed for the bombing.
Pakistan retaliated and said it shot down two Indian air force planes. One pilot was captured and later released. India says it lost only one plane.
Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi marked the national day by saying the region needs peace, not war, and that Pakistan wants to live peacefully with its neighbours. He said Pakistan’s war is against hunger, poverty and unemployment.
“Our desire for peace shouldn’t be construed as our weakness. Let’s end the hatred and sow the seeds of peace in this region for prosperity of the people,” Alvi said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was the chief guest of the parade, in which troops marched through the streets of Islamabad and warplanes staged acrobatic flyovers. Authorities suspended mobile phone services and blocked roads as part of security precautions.
Alvi was to honor selected Pakistanis and foreigners with civilian awards later in the day. Naeem Rashid, who was killed while trying to stop the gunman who attacked two New Zealand mosques earlier this month, will be honored posthumously.
"While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far," the Pakistan's foreign office said,
China on Friday said it was wrong to accuse it of sheltering terrorists because it put a technical hold on the resolution to blacklist Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group chief Masood Azhar as its decision was in line with the rules of an anti-terrorism panel at the UN.
Imran Khan said he received a message from Modi in which the latter extended "greetings & best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan."
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty is expected to formally collapse on August 2 after both Russia and the US pulled out, dealing a blow to international arms control efforts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has replied to an 11-year-old girl from Harayana's Gurugram, who congratulated him on BJP's victory in the Lok Sabha elections and urged him to encourage people to keep their surroundings clean.
Masroor Ali Siyal, a leader from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, and Karachi Press Club President Imtiaz Khan were among the panelists on the show "News Line with Aftab Mugheri".