This year’s Pakistan Day parade was unique in more ways than one.
In a pleasant break from the past, it was not just a spectacularly choreographed display of Pakistan’s military might; it was also the celebration of the country’s pluralistic society. It wasn’t just a pomp and patriotism-filled ceremony. It also spotlighted the contributions of civilians to various fields of life.
The inclusion of police, Rangers, ANF and ASF women officers in the lady contingent was one of the highlights of the event that usually carries heavy militaristic overtones.
Last year the parade was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This year, however, it was conducted strictly in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the health authorities to contain the spread of the contagion.
It was unique because the military contingents and all those who were part of the parade were kept in a special bio bubble. Their movement in and out of the parade ground in Shakarparian, Islamabad, was restricted.
Located in the foothills of Margalla Hills, the Shakarparian Parade Ground is one of the most beautiful grounds in the world. It was specially decorated for the occasion. Giant digital screens were installed for the first time to show various segments.
Facemasks were provided to all the guests. Thermal guns were used to check their body temperatures. Hand sanitisers were also provided at the entry gates while seating arrangements were made in such a way that there was safe distance between guests.
This year’s parade was also unique because it did not only showcase the country’s military might but also highlighted the Pakistan movement and paid glowing tributes to all those who gave supreme sacrifices for the creation of the country. The white in the national flag symbolises religious minorities in the country and this was in particular at display.
A team of commentators – led by Colonel Shafiq – perfectly captured the tone and tenor of the event with a spellbinding script and eloquent delivery which was reminiscent of the yesteryears when literary giants like Laiq Ahmed and Qureshpur used to cast a spell on the audience with their commentary on the Pakistan Day parade on the national television.
Normally, the militaristic overtones are dominant in the tone and tenor of the event, but this year the sacrifices of the civilians in the war against terrorism were also under the spotlight.
They included Itezaz Hasan, a teenager from Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, who had laid down his life to prevent a suicide bombing at a school. Nawab Siraj Raisani, Haroon Blour and Shuja Khanzada were eulogised as symbols of courage and resolve for challenging terrorists.
Tributes were paid to the youngest pellet gun victim, Hiba Nisar, 18 months old, and Asifa Bano of Bakarwal community of Kathoa, in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, who was raped and brutally murdered.
The ceremony started with the recitation from the Holy Quran. Earlier, President Dr Arif Alvi arrived at the venue in the traditional presidential buggy amidst the calls of bugles, where he was received by the top military brass.
The ceremony started with the recitation from the Holy Quran. President Alvi in a military jeep reviewed the parade as contingents of armed forces held a march past and presented a salute to him. Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Babar Sudhu led the fly-past as a salute to the president.
The formation of F-16s, J-17 Thunder, Karakorum Eagle 3, SAAB 2000, P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and ATRs fly-past the venue. The cavalry of tanks, military band and floats representing the cultures of Pakistan were also highlight of the ceremony.
The contingents of Punjab, Sindh and Baloch regiments, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Mujahid Regiment, Pakistan Rangers Sindh, Punjab Police, Air Force Security Force, women officers, Light Commando Battalion from Baloch Regiment and the Special Services Group participated in the parade.
On the occasion, A Turkish band ‘Mehter’ (Ottoman Janissary Band) sang iconic ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ song during the parade. The band marched during the parade, with its rendition enthralling guests. The band also brought the theme song of the famous TV show Diriliş: Ertuğrul to life during its performance.
Addressing the parade, President Dr Alvi said that Pakistan desired to extend a message of goodwill to regional countries for the common prosperity, but its intention must not be misconstrued as weakness. “In case of any misadventure, Pakistan is capable of thwarting it with full force,” he said
Alvi said Pakistan believed in promoting cooperation in the South Asia, which was already facing hindrances in its progress because of the regional conflicts and discords. “The goal of national and regional development can only be achieved in the environment of peace and by refraining from all kinds of aggression and exploitation,” he stressed.
The president felicitated the nation on Pakistan Day, saying the occasion was a reminder to renew the pledges of religious, cultural and fundamental freedoms. “The nation’s journey, commencing in 1947 in difficult situations, is moving ahead with remarkable success in the fields of education, economy, politics and defence,” he added.
Alvi lauded the armed forces for their valour and bravery in defending the frontiers of the country, and rendering immense sacrifices for the safety of the nation. He also mentioned the eradication of terrorist networks by the armed forces through the Operation Raddul Fasaad that restored normalcy across the country.
“They remained ever-ready in dealing with the challenges, may it be terrorism, natural calamities or disasters,” he said. “From barren deserts to the high-altitude Siachen and the vast skies to the depth of oceans, our armed forces are acting as a strong defence line.”
Alvi said that gaining capabilities in scientifically-advanced field such as artificial intelligence would help the young generation meet the challenges of contemporary world. He expressed satisfaction that the scientists in Pakistan were rendering their services efficiently and making the country self-reliant in defence production.
He urged the nation to remain steadfast, as ‘One Nation, One Goal’ will make Pakistan prosperous, reliving the spirit and passion of Pakistan Movement seven decades ago that led to the creation of homeland.
President Arif Alvi attended the parade as the chief guest, while Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Nadeem Raza, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar Sidhu and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi were also present. Prime Minister Imran Khan could not attend the ceremony because of Covid-19.
(WITH INPUT FROM APP)
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