Islamabad: The nation is celebrating Pakistan Day on Saturday with a commitment to ensure progress, prosperity and a strong defense of the country. The day dawned with thirty-one-gun salute in the federal capital and twenty-one-gun salute in provincial capitals, Radio Pakistan reported.
Special prayers were offered in mosques after Fajr prayers for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.
The Pakistan Day military parade is under way at Parade Ground near Islamabad’s Shakarparian hills. The event is being attended by the country’s top civil and military leaders and a large number of foreign dignitaries.
Special guest of honour Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad is also present at the parade, along with President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mehmood Hayat and the three services chiefs.
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, and government officials from Oman are also in attendance.
Contingents of the three armed forces conducted a march-past, while a formation of Pakistan Air Force jets led by Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan presented a fly-past as a salute to the president.
A special hallmark of the parade was the participation of paratroopers from Azerbaijan, Brunei, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka. The Special Services Group’s Sky Divers undertook free-fall jumps from a height of 10,000 feet.
Contingents of Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia were part of the marching columns, while Turkey and China participated in the aerobatics display.
Participating troops included foot columns of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Frontier Corps K-P, Pakistan Rangers Sindh, Islamabad Police, Tri-Services Lady Officers, Tri-Services Armed Forces Nursing Service, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, and Special Service Group of the three services.
There were also mechanised columns of the Armoured Corps, Mechanised Infantry, Artillery, Army Air Defence, Engineers, Signals, Army Strategic Force Command and mounted columns of the Camel Band and the Presidents Body Guard.
Contingents of the Defence Security Force, which participated for the first time, and Mujahid Force also took part. Cultural floats representing Balochistan, Punjab, K-P, Sindh, Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan were also part of the parade.
Pakistan’s weaponry including Al-Zarrar and Al-Khalid tanks, a variety of armoured personnel carriers, and surveillance equipment such as the Giraffe radar was presented before the audience.
In his address, President Dr Arif Alvi reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace and stability. He said Pakistan was ever willing to resolve issues through dialogue but also remained completely capable of defending itself against any aggression.
The president lauded the contribution of the armed forces towards Pakistan’s progress and cited the recent confrontation with India as an example of their proficiency.
“Pakistan’s desire for peace should never be misconstrued as weakness. Pakistan was and remains fully capable of protecting its sovereignty.”
President Alvi criticised India for its post-Pulwama false allegations against Pakistan and urged New Delhi to accept reality.
“We should be focusing not on wars, but rather on health, education and employment. Our real fight should be against poverty and unemployment.”
An investiture ceremony will also take place at Aiwan-e-Sadr in the evening, where the president will confer civil awards on individuals demonstrating feats in different fields of science and arts.
One hundred and seventy-one personalities, including some foreigners, have been selected for this year’s awards.