Pakistani soldiers march during the Pakistan National Day military parade in Islamabad Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: The 78th Pakistan Day was marked across the country on Friday with enthusiasm, excitement and renewed commitment by officials for expanded friendly cooperation with all countries.

March 23rd commemorates the adoption of the historic Lahore Resolution in 1940.

The major ceremony was held at parade ground in Islamabad, attended by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena as guest of honour and Pakistan’s closest allies including UAE, Turkey and Jordan.

A special contingent of UAE and Jordan armed forces participated for the first time in the joint military drill.

The Pakistan Armed Forces held an impressive military parade in Islamabad.

The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad, while provincial capitals held 21-gun salutes and flag hoisting ceremonies.

Special prayers were offered in mosques for the progress, prosperity and solidarity of the country.

Change of guard ceremonies were held at the mausoleums of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi and Dr Allama Iqbal in Lahore.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, 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 as well a large number of officials and diplomats from several countries attended the ceremony.

President Mamnoon Hussain welcomed the Sri Lankan president and troops from UAE, Turkey and Jordan to the parade.

He said March 23 was, “A vivid reminder that Pakistan was established through a democratic struggle and democracy is the key to national development and stability.”

In his speech, he warned India not to attempt to destabilise Pakistan and denounced the Indian army’s attacks from across the Line of Control and working boundary.

He said “The only solution to the dispute of Kashmir is to provide the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people, and Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard.”

He added Pakistan was eager for restoration of peace in Afghanistan, saying, “International peace is the basis of our country’s foreign policy.”

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in his message to the nation, remarked that the creation of Pakistan was rooted in a democratic struggle and its existence, security, integrity, development and prosperity hinged on democracy.

“We cannot succeed without upholding the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution,” he said.

Contingents of Pakistan’s army, air force and navy marched past and saluted the guests. Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan led a fly-past as a salute to the president.

Spectacular aerobatic feats of Pakistan Air Force fighter jets including F-16, JF 17, Mirage, F-17, AWACs, C-130 and P-3C Orion enthralled the crowd.

Combat and attack helicopters as well as skydivers of airborne units from the three armed forces also displayed their skills.

Jordan’s military band mesmerised the audience with their rendition of Pakistani national songs.

Contingents of the army, navy, air force, special services groups, Frontier Corps, Rangers Islamabad, police, women officers, nursing officers, boy scouts and girl guides also took part in the parade.

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 put on display.

The NASR missile, Shaheen missile, Ghauri missile system, and Babur cruise missiles were also featured in the parade.

The parade also showcased the local cultures of Pakistan’s four provinces.

Cultural delegates and floats from Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir were featured in the ceremony.

The parade concluded with the presentation of a special song with the theme ‘Aman ka Nishan Yeh Hamara Pakistan’ (Pakistan is the land of peace).