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Pakistan marks national day, displays its military might at parade

Pakistan marks national day, displays its military might at parade

- President Asif Zardari thanks Türkiye, other 'friendly' countries for standing by Islamabad in difficult times

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD (AA) - Pakistan on Saturday celebrated its national day amid a display of the country's military might at a parade in the capital Islamabad.

The traditional military parade, aired on the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV), was held in the Shakarparian parade ground and attended by President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and services chiefs, while Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud also participated in the ceremony as a guest of honor.

Several units from Pakistan’s army, air force, and navy participated in the parade, with fighter jets, including JF-17s and F-16s, flying past the crowds.

The nuclear-capable missiles Shaheen I, II, and III, along with Ghouri, Babar, and Nasr missiles, were also displayed.

Contingents of Azerbaijani and Chinese militaries also took part in the parade.

The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in all four provincial capitals, followed by change-of-guards ceremonies at the mausoleums of Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the South Asian nation, in the port city of Karachi, and the mausoleum of Allama Mohammad Iqbal, a national poet, in the northeastern city of Lahore.

Similar ceremonies were also held in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, PTV reported.

Held annually in Lahore on March 23, the event commemorates the 1940 independence resolution -- commonly known as the Pakistan Resolution -- which demanded for the first time an independent state, comprising Muslim-majority states in the then-United India under British colonial rule.

The passing of the landmark resolution subsequently led to the creation of Pakistan on Aug. 14, 1947, marking the end of over 150 years of British colonial rule.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Zardari said Pakistan wants good relations with all its neighbors, but warned that Islamabad will not compromise its sovereignty.

"We are a peace-loving country and responsible nuclear state. However, let me make it clear that we will not compromise on our sovereignty. Our nation and our armed forces are always ready to respond to any aggression at all times. We will not tolerate any effort by terrorists or any groups to destabilize our country," he said, adding: "Today's parade is a reminder of our unity, strength, and pride."

Zardari did not name any country or group but referred to his country's tensed ties with arch-rival India and recent terrorist attacks carried out by the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of various militant groups, in northwestern Pakistan killing dozens of soldiers and civilians in recent months.

On Sunday night, Islamabad Air Force also carried out an airstrike inside Afghanistan after militants attacked its forces in the Waziristan region near the Afghan border, killing at least seven soldiers, including two officers.

Islamabad accuses Afghanistan of failing to prevent TTP militants from carrying out attacks in Pakistan before returning to Afghanistan for refuge, while Kabul has denied the charges.

Zardari also condemned Israeli attacks and "the killing of thousands of innocent Palestinian people" and urged the international community to stop the killings of men, women, and children in Palestine.

He reiterated his country's continued support for the Palestinian people and said Islamabad will stand with them till the resolution of the issue based on their aspirations.

The Pakistani president also thanked Türkiye, China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and other "friendly" countries for standing by Pakistan in difficult times.

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