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Pakistani soldiers are pictured on a tank during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Islamabad: Thousands of Pakistanis gathered at Shakarparian ground in Islamabad on Wednesday to celebrate Pakistan Day and watch the glorious display of the country’s military power and cultural diversity.

The event is celebrated annually on March 23 and commemorates the adoption of the Pakistan Resolution in Lahore in 1940 which demanded a separate homeland for Muslims in South Asia.

The day began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and a 21-gun salute in the four provincial capitals followed by change-of-guards ceremonies at the mausoleums of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, in Karachi, and the mausoleum of Allama Mohammad Iqbal, the national poet, in Lahore.

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Women from the armed forces at the parade. Image Credit: Reuters

Pakistan Day parade

The major celebration was the traditional Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad attended by President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the three services chiefs. The dignitaries participating in the 48th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also joined as the guests of honour. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Turkey’s Chief of the General Staff Gen Yasar Guler also attended the ceremony.

The three contingents of the armed forces and other security forces conducted a march during the grand military parade as fighter planes dazzled spectators with breathtaking aerial manoeuvres. Troops from friendly countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Bahrain also participated in the parade.

Peaceful and responsible nation: President

Addressing the nation, President Alvi said Pakistan country wants to have cordial relations with all its neighbours on the basis of “peaceful coexistence.” However. Islamabad is fully “ready and capable” of thwarting any aggression, he said. Dr Arif Alvi said Pakistan would never compromise on its sovereignty and territorial integrity, vowing that “any external aggression will be dealt with strongly”.

Reiterating the country’s resolve against fighting extremism and terrorism, he said, “Pakistani nation has made immense sacrifices in the war and stood resilient against internal and external conspiracies.” He also lauded the courage of the country’s armed forces and the nation for making their homeland strong and prosperous.

Air show dazzle spectators

Sherdils, the aerobatics team of PAF, enthralled the guests with high-adrenaline show of seamless formations, painting the sky with colours of celebration, receiving a huge round of applause from the crowds. Spectators at the Shakarparian ground got a close look at the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets, including the newly inducted J-10C ‘Vigorous Dragon’ and the JF-17 Thunder, and F-16 that performed breathtaking aerial maneuvers while demonstrating the PAF’s capabilities.

Mirages, SAAB 2000 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) and Navy’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft P-3C Orion also held a flypast before the crowds. The fleet of helicopters included Sea King, Mi-17, Bell 412, Z-9 and AgustaWestland AW-139.

Military machines and missiles

Some of Pakistan’s advanced military hardware exhibited at the parade included tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APC), unmanned aircraft system (UAS), air defence systems. Pakistan’s Shahpar-II medium-altitude long-endurance and Uqab tactical UAV system were also exhibited. The cavalry of tanks included the modern VT-4 main battle tank, T-80UD tanks and locally developed Al-Khalid tanks.

The mechanized infantry regiment included M113P and VCC-2 APC, howitzer guns and the advanced SH-15 artillery system. The LY-80, FM-90 and HQ-9 high to medium air defence system (HIMADS) were also displayed along with modern radar and communication systems. The short and long-range missiles on display included Nasr (70km range), Babur-1A (450 km), Ra’ad-II (650km), Shaheen 1-A (900km), Ghauri (1,500km) and Shaheen-II (2,000km).