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    Friday, 23 March 2018

    In a first, Indian diplomats attend Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad

    In an unprecedented move, senior Indian military officials and diplomats posted in Islamabad attended the Friday’s military parade to mark the Pakistan Day.

    Amid heightened tensions between the two neighbouring countries, the Pakistan Army invited, for the first time, Indian Defence Attache and senior diplomats of the Indian High Commission to join March 23 celebrations, a senior military official told The South Punjab News.
    Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official revealed that it was an initiative of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa aimed to send a peace message to India.
    The purpose behind inviting Indian military representatives is to send a message that while Pakistan “stands for peace”, it is also ready to defend every inch of the country in case of any misadventure, he said.The move comes at a time when tensions have been simmering between Islamabad and New Delhi for months with frequent incidents of clashes along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary (WB).

    While the army chief is believed to be in favour of improved ties, the ball is now in India’s court to see how the unprecedented gesture will be reciprocated.Pakistan Day celebrations kicked off  today (Friday) with a joint military parade at the Parade Ground near Islamabad’s Shakarparian Hills.

    The ceremony commenced with the recitation of Holy Quran.  President Mamnoon Hussain observed the parade from a jeep. A fly-past of fighter jets including JF-16s, JF 17s, Mirages, AWACs, C-130s and P-3C Orion aircraft of Pakistan Air Force led by Air Chief Mujahid Anwar Khan presented tribute to the president.
    Pakistani tank crews steer their vehicles during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2018. PHOTO: AFP
    Contingents of the army, navy, air force, special services groups, Frontier Corps, Pakistan Rangers,  police, nursing officers, boy scouts and girl guides marched past the dais presenting salute to the president and Guest of honour Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
    Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain (C) rides a horse-drawn carriage escorted by presidential guards as he arrives at the venue for the Pakistan Day military parade in islamabad on March 23, 2018. PHOTO: AFP
    Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Defence Minister Khurrum Dastgir, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee Zubair Mehmood Hayat and other civil and military top brass also marked their presence at the ceremony.
    Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain (R), Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (L) and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi attend the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

    Over 2, 000 personnel were deployed to secure Islamabad in connection with Pakistan Day events. Faizabad Interchange and roads leading to Parade Ground were closed except for invitees who have been issued special passes.
    Pakistani tank crews steer their vehicles during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2018. PHOTO: AFP
    President’s message on Pakistan Day
    In his March 23 message, the President exhorted the nation to take Pakistan to heights of glory envisioned by its founders. Paying homage to Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, national poet Allama Iqbal and other leaders of the freedom movement he said, March 23 was “a vivid reminder that Pakistan was established through a democratic struggle. Democracy is key to national development and stability.”
    Prime minister’s message 
    In his message to the nation, the prime minister emphasised the need to introspect on the past to adequately plan for the future. “We must analyse our successes and our failures,” he said.
    Abbasi observed that the creation of Pakistan was rooted in a democratic struggle and its existence, security, integrity, development and prosperity hinged on democracy. “We cannot succeed without upholding the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution,” he added.
    The day began with a 21-gun salute followed by an investiture ceremony at the Governor House in Quetta where Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai honoured Inspecter-General Police (IG) Moazzam Jah Ansari with a Quaid-e-Azam Police Medal. Flag raising ceremonies and rallies were organised across the province to mark Pakistan Day.
    Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and other cabinet members visited Mazar-e-Quaid early Friday morning.
    Speaking to the media after laying floral wreath at the Mazar, governor Sindh said the security forces had been striving hard for  peace in Karachi. CM Shah emphasised the need to ensure the democratic process continued.
    The provincial capital celebrated Pakistan Day with the air force taking charge of Mazar-e-Iqbal in a ceremony. After a flag hositing ceremony at the Governor House, Governor Muhammad Rafique Rajwana conferred civil awards on recipients.
    A ceremony was held at the Governor House in Peshawar where K-P Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra distributed awards among notables from various walks of life.  Quaid-e-Azam Police and President Police medals were also conferred on the occasion. The K-P governor also distributed laptops among children of martyred cops.
    China felicitates
    President Xi Jinping congratulated the government of Pakistan on the occasion of the 79th Pakistan Day. He said, “I would like to express my warm congratulations and best wishes to you and through you to the government and people of Pakistan.”
    “In recent years, under the leadership of you and the Pakistani government, the economy of Pakistan grows steadily, and people’s livelihood improves continuously. We feel heartily delighted,” he added.
    While, the Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi also sent the best of wishes to Pakistan on this special day. “Pakistan is a good neighbor, good friend, good partner and good brother of China. China attaches high importance to its relations with Pakistan. We would like to work with the Pakistani side to promote the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to new heights.”
    “May I wish Pakistan prosperity and her people happiness and wealth,” he said.
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