Military power on display at Pakistan Day parade

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Day celebrations Saturday began with fresh vows to work towards the country’s progress and stability.

The iconic military parade remains the day’s most significant feature where the armed forces’ contingents and other security forces conducted a march past, while fighter planes presented aerobatic maneuvers.

Saudi Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud is the guest of honour in today’s event while the contingents of China and Azerbaijan will also feature in the parade.

President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and all the services chiefs are present at the occasion.

Addressing the occasion, President Asif Ali Zardari said March 23 holds national importance, as Muslims of the subcontinent demanded a separate nation for themselves.

During his speech, he welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence Prince Khalid bin Salman Khalid Bin Aziz, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, members of Parliament, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Sahir Shamshad Mirza, and Parade commander.

“Today, we pay homage to leaders, martyrs and ghazis who sacrificed their lives for independence,” said the president, adding that the Pakistani nation, from its independence till today, has gone through ups and downs.

“Despite the difficulties, we developed in different areas including defence, agriculture, education, health, and technology in provinces,” said the head of state.

The president said that Pakistan is a strong country in terms of defence and the country’s armed forces are always ready for the nation.

Speaking about the issues being faced by Pakistan, Zardari said the country is facing economic, social and political challenges, as well as increasing population, climate change, education and poverty.

He added that Pakistan went through a successful electoral phase to elect a democratic government, adding that it was now everyone’s responsibility to solve these issues together.

“I believe that just like we faced the challenges in the past, we can still rid Pakistan of these challenges. A special investment facilitation council has been set up for the country’s economy. Through this plan, we will be developing foreign investment, agriculture, livestock, minerals, mining, information technology and energy sector,” he said.

“I request all political parties to keep aside their political benefits to find a solution to the problems and work together for the development of Pakistan,” said President Zardari.

He added: “In our region, one of the main reasons for instability is the Indian Illegal Occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmiri people have been demanding their right of self-determination for 76 years. We condemn the brutalities, human rights violation carried out by the Indian government against innocent and unarmed Kashmiri people and ask international to ensure the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Kashmir.

“I want to remind the Kashmiris once again that the people of Pakistan will always stand by them in their just struggle against trinity.

“With regards to human catastrophes unfolding in Gaza, we appeal to the international community to take measures to ensure that the killing of innocent Palestinian people including children and women is immediately halted, a ceasefire is announced and a humanitarian corridor is opened at priority. Pakistan will continue to support the people of Palestine till the resolution of Palestine issued as per their aspirations of their people.”

He said Pakistan wants relations with all its neighbours as it is a peace loving country and a responsible state. “However, we will not compromise on our sovereignty. Our nation and armed forces are always ready to respond to any aggression at all times. We will not tolerate any efforts by terrorists or any groups to destablise our country. Today’s parade is a reminder of our unity, strength and pride.”

The president, on the occasion, thanked China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey and other countries for standing with Pakistan in hard times.

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