The nation is celebrating Pakistan Day 2018 across the country with traditional zeal and fervour.
Pakistan Day commemorates the passing of the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940, when the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate nation for the Muslims of the British Indian Empire.
A joint military parade was held at Parade Ground near the Shakarparian hills in Islamabad to mark the day.
Mobile phone services were suspended in the capital, where the annual parade took place. The ceremony commenced with the recitation of Holy Quran. After the national anthem was played, President Mamnoon Hussain observed the parade from a jeep.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Defence Minister Khurrum Dastagir, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee Zubair Mehmood Hayat were also present at the ceremony. A large number of diplomats from several countries attended the ceremony. The guest of honour at the ceremony was Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
Contingents of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, and Pakistan Navy held a march-past and a salute to the president of Pakistan. Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan led a fly-past as a salute to the president.
Troops from Frontier Corps, Pakistan Rangers, Northern Light Infantry, Mujahid Battalion, Tri Services Lady Officers, Tri Services Armed Forces Nursing Services, Special Services Group, and President Bodyguards also took part in the parade.
Troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) participated in the parade for the first time. The parade also featured troops from Jordan.
Following the soldiers, contingents of armoured and mechanised infantry held a march-past. Pakistan Army tanks, including the Al Khalid and Al Zarrar, presented gun salutes to the president. Radar systems and other weapons equipped with military technology were also rolled out. The NASR missile, the Shaheen missile, the Ghauri missile system, and the Babur cruise missile were also featured in the parade.
Various aeroplanes belonging to Army Aviation and Pakistan Air Force demonstrated aerobatic feats for the audience. Combat and attack helicopters, as well as skydivers of airborne units from the three armed forces, also demonstrated their skills.
Subsequently, the parade showcased local cultures of the four provinces. Cultural delegates and floats from Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir were featured during the ceremony.
President announces ‘Tamga-i-Azam’
President Mamnoon Hussain, in his speech, welcomed the Sri Lankan president, and troops from Turkey, Jordan, and the UAE to the parade.
He said that cooperation for international peace is the base of the country’s foreign policy. Islamabad also extends a hand of cooperation to the regional countries but taking the gesture as a weakness will be a dangerous mistake, the president added.
He paid tribute to the founders of the country who made the creation of Pakistan possible and emphasised the importance of peace and stability for the country’s progress. He also paid a rich tribute to the martyrs of the Pakistan movement.
President Hussain strongly condemned India for its irresponsible behaviour, denouncing the Indian army’s attacks from across the Line of Control and Working Boundary.
“The only solution to the dispute of Kashmir is providing the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people, and Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard,” he said, condemning Indian troops in held-Kashmir for their atrocities.
Talking about anti-terrorism operations in the country, he lauded the armed forces as well as the nation for eliminating terrorism from the country under operations Raddul Fasad and Zarb-i-Azb and announced a medal “Tamga-i-Azam” for those who rendered sacrifices for restoration of peace.
The president also awarded 141 Pakistani citizens and foreign nationals for their services in fields including science, literature, arts, sports and media, reported.
Deceased human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir was among those honoured. She received the Nishan-i-Pakistan, the highest civilian honour, for her struggle for democracy and advocacy for human rights.
The Pakistan Day parade had resumed in 2015 after a gap of seven years and was seen as a manifestation of the military’s show of strength in the wake of a shocking attack in 2014 on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar, which left 150 dead, including 132 schoolchildren.
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 after Fajr prayers for the progress, prosperity and solidarity of the country and national flag was hoisted at all major government buildings.
Change of guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi and Dr Allama Iqbal in Lahore.
Air Commodore Syed Sabahat Hasan was the chief guest at the ceremony held at Iqbal’s mausoleum in Lahore where Pakistan Airforce troops took over guard duty.