It has been announced that the March 23 parade has been cancelled. That makes the seventh consecutive time it has been cancelled. The last time it was conducted was in 2006. According to newspaper reports, this year it has been ‘postponed’ because of the situation on the Line of Control, where India has been engaged in its usual aggressiveness. Though it might seem that there has been an avoidance of having the parade inspected by a civilian President, it should be recalled that the President at the time of the first postponement in 2007 was Gen Pervez Musharraf, then also COAS, whose resignation was at the time not even speculated about. Tension with India does not mean there need be a postponement. It should not be forgotten that the military, even under war conditions, could hold a truncated parade, and when there is only a threat, this reason does not hold. At least, it would not hold if there was a firm commitment to holding the parade, which in turn requires that the importance of the occasion be realized.

This parade, when it takes place, is the centrepiece of the nation’s commemoration of the passage of the Pakistan Resolution, in which the All-India Muslim League resolved for the creation of Pakistan as its goal, was not a party occaison, as it coalesced into a national movement. It was also the country’s Republic Day, on which both the 1953 and 1973 Constitutions came into force. The armed forces have Defence Day on September 6, and the March 23 parade is meant to show the military’s commitment to the constitution. Previous cancellations have been on the claim of security concerns. This cancellation would indicate that the claims of success being made by the Americans and the Afghan regime they have installed are wrong.

Parades are by their very nature symbolic manifestations. By the same token, so are their being cancelled, which is what the postponement amounts to. The government should ensure the holding of the parade, even if a truncated one.