Pakistan Day
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Islamabad – This year, in what appears to be a new cooperation of its kind – Chinese and Turkish Militaries will participate in the Pakistan Day celebrations on 23rd March.

 

Parade was held, in a new venue, alongside the Islamabad Expressway; this now marks the new place instead of D-Chowk of 1990’s and first decade of 21st Century. Changing venues also reflect country’s changing politics and dynamics. Ideally such parades are best held in centers of historic significance and constitution avenue should have been such a place in Islamabad.

On 23rd March, 1940, Lahore Resolution was passed, with Quadi-e-Azam, Mohd Ali Jinnah in attendance, which demanded a separate state (or as some say: two states) for the Muslim majority areas in northwest and northeast of British India. This day is commemorated by a grand parade done by Pakistan’s defense forces including Police and Frontier Constabulary (FC). Over the years, from 1970’s era of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, contingents representing civil society groups and industrial units also participate.

Pakistan Day parade, till very long was held at the Race Course Grounds in Rawalpindi. However later in late 1970’s or early 1980’s it moved to Islamabad. What is now famous as the D-Chowk in Islamabad still has the open multi-step theatre style stairs for spectators. Tanks and military vehicles used to ply in front of the watching public while fighter jets did fly pasts. D-Chowk later became famous for political protests. In 2014, workers and supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) of Dr. Tahir ul Qadri stayed put there and demonstrated against PM Nawaz Sharif for several weeks.

Under “Rao Doctrine” since middle 1990’s onwards, it has been a strategic goal of the Indian state to get Pakistan declared as a sponsor of terrorism.

However grand parades were stopped from 2008 onwards, citing increasing risks to large public gatherings after the wave of terrorism that hit the country after the Lal Masjid tragedy in July 2007. Sometimes costs were also cited as a reason. However, after a hiatus of seven years, the celebrations were revived in March 2015. It was presented as a show of strength and confidence by the military, after the attacks on Army Public School on Dec 16, 2014.

The then military Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif decided to send an uplifting message to a nation demoralized by wanton terrorism that its military can defend open air large public gatherings. New Army Chief, Gen. Qamar Bajwa, after the recent wave of terrorism across Pakistan in February, has a similar challenge. In 2015, it was rumored that Chinese President will also grace the occasion along with the Pakistani Prime Minister – though it did not materialize. Parade was held, in a new venue, alongside the Islamabad Expressway; this now marks the new place instead of D-Chowk of 1990’s and first decade of 21st Century. Changing venues also reflect country’s changing politics and dynamics. Ideally such parades are best held in centers of historic significance and constitution avenue should have been such a place in Islamabad.

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D-Chowk later became famous for political protests. In 2014, workers and supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) of Dr. Tahir ul Qadri stayed put there and demonstrated against PM Nawaz Sharif for several weeks.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), has now tweeted that this year on 23rd March, Chinese Troops and Turkish Military Band are also going to participate in the parade. This appears to be designed to send a positive message of hope, optimism and increasing regional cooperation between Pakistan, China and Turkey. It is also a negative message to the government of PM Narendra Modi that was laboring hard to impose “isolation” upon Pakistan. Under “Rao Doctrine” since middle 1990’s onwards, it has been a strategic goal of the Indian state to get Pakistan declared as a sponsor of terrorism. International narrative of Pakistan as “epicenter of terror” is part of the same strategy and is often lead by Indian lobbying machine – sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly.

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Moreover, the Pakistan Day Parade has always been a sight for sore eyes. The performance done by the forces, along with aerial acrobatics, is always loved and cherished by the public, in almost any country.

India’s equivalent of Pakistan Day Parade comes on Republic Day on Jan 26. This marks the adoption of Indian constitution. A grand parade is held in the capital, New Delhi, from the Raisina Hill Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President’s residence), along the Rajpath, past India Gate. Such events also give the public an opportunity to see what defense systems the country has acquired or achieved domestically along with its capabilities. Pakistan now increasingly show cases its own defense production like JSF-17 planes, Al Khalid Tanks and Missile Systems. Impressive  air stunts performed by Pakistan Air Force, Sky-diving by combined military officers show the skill and dedication they have developed for the defense of their country.

 

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