ISLAMABAD - A highly impressive joint military parade by the armed forces of Pakistan took place here Monday after a gap of seven years, to commemorate the historic Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940 – a day which set course for the creation of Pakistan.

Led by Brigadier Khurram Sarfraz, personnel from all three services, Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force, strategic command, Rangers, FC, police, boys and girls guides participated in the parade.

Mobile phone networks in the capital were disabled to thwart potential bomb attacks, some roads were closed to the public and much of the city was under heavy guard for the event.

The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, naval chief Admiral Zakaullah, PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, senior serving and retired civil and military officials, diplomats and citizens.

This year’s event took place at the new Parade Ground, specially built near scenic Shakarparian. In the past, the parade was held on Parade Avenue in front of Parliament House and before that, at the Race Course in Rawalpindi.

The colourful ceremony of Pakistan Day parade kicked off with a splendid fly past of aircraft of Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy led by Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman.

Both modern and more traditional elements of Pakistan’s military arsenal were on display, from nuclear-capable missiles and the new home-made armed Burraq drone to a camel-mounted musical band.

The formations of F-16, JF-17, Mirage, F-7PG and P-3C Orion presented salute to the chief guest by flying over the saluting dais.

Nuclear-capable Nasr and Shaheen missiles, which have a range of up to 1,500 kilometres, and Babur cruise missiles were also paraded.

Different regiments of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force marched past the saluting dais presenting salute to the president.

Mechanised columns including tanks, rocket launchers, indigenously developed short and long range missiles, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles were showcased at the parade. Demonstration of UAV Burraq was also made.

Floats depicting culture of the four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan were also part of the parade.

Helicopters of Pakistan Army Aviation and Pakistan Navy presented fly past.

Personnel of Special Services Groups (SSG) displayed a breathtaking show of paratrooping and Aircraft of Pakistan Air Force including JF-17 Thunder and F-16 presented thrilling aerobatic maneuvers.

Addressing the nation on the occasion, President Mamnoon Hussain expressed the resolve to free the country from terrorism, militancy, ethnicity and sectarianism in order to ensure a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan.

The president said, “Our destination is to make Pakistan such a country which is free of all prejudices and the people can live as per their own free will.”

“Pakistan Day parade provides an excellent opportunity to pay tributes to the elders who waged a relentless struggle for the creation of homeland,” said Mamnoon.

Paying tributes to the martyrs, the president said the nation was proud of its sons who sacrificed their lives for the country and also made Pakistan a nuclear power.

Referring to Zarb-e-Azb Operation against terrorism, Mamnoon said, “Our armed forces are rendering their lives in this most difficult war of the history.” He announced that he would personally visit the soldiers and officers engaged in the Zarb-e-Azb operation. He said the martyrs of Peshawar school attack also deserved salute.

He said the consensus amongst all segments of society on National Action Plan against terrorism was a commendable step which also reflected that the elimination of this menace was not far away.

The president said Pakistan wanted peaceful and friendly relations with all its neighbors including India on the basis of equality. He said Pakistan desired resolution of all disputes with India including Jammu and Kashmir through dialogue. Mamnoon said the Kashmir dispute should be resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions. This, he said, could only ensure durable peace and stability in the region.

Mamnoon said Pakistan enjoyed historic religious and cultural ties with Afghanistan and these relations were further being cemented.  

Mamnoon said, “Pakistan will continue to play its role for world peace and security.”

He termed the extension of Pakistan’s seabed to 350 nautical miles by the United Nations as a significant development saying it would further enhance country’s natural resources.

The ceremony culminated with presentation of national songs by the students of different schools.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday greeted his counterpart Nawaz Sharif on Pakistan National Day. He told Sharif that all outstanding issues between the two neighbours could be resolved through bilateral talks in a terror-free atmosphere.

Modi tweeted, “It is my firm conviction that all outstanding issues can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence.”

“I have written to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, conveying my greetings on the National Day of Pakistan,” Modi tweeted.