In Focus

Long Live Pakistan: Pakistan Day Parade-2022

Lying at the base of Margalla Hills, Shakarparian Parade Ground was welcoming the people of from all walks of life with beautiful semi-cloudy weather. The celebrations of March 23 were already in full swing, but the portraits of the founding fathers of Pakistan displayed at the venue along with notable personalities from all walks of life reminded the participants that despite all the challenges, Pakistan has remained a force to be reckoned with. This also emphasized that Pakistanis are a resilient nation who accept challenges and work hard to achieve them. This year, people participated in the parade from all over the country, and the traffic on the Islamabad Expressway was a proof of it. Since dawn, people had started rushing towards the Shakarparian Parade Ground, but diligent traffic planning and thorough security procedures guaranteed that the guests reach the venue without any hassle, while simultaneously ensuring the safety of all by carefully checking and verifying every vehicle and individual. 

The troops, dressed in regimental uniforms, marched towards their positions and started the parade. This was followed by the flag-bearers of the tri-services, who marched towards the parade ground and took positions facing the dais, while simultaneously upholding the Pakistani flag. The parade was then handed over to Parade Commander, Brig Muhammad Arsalan Tariq Ali. In a few moments, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, NI (M), the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, NI (M), and the Vice Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Muhammad Zahid Mehmood, HI (M) (who was representing the Air Chief) arrived at the parade venue. Before the arrival of the honorable Prime Minister, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Nadeem Raza, NI (M), and the Defense Minister, Pervez Khattak, graced the occasion. The Prime Minister, accompanied by the corps of military police, then arrived at the venue. 

Although the arrival of all the leaders was noteworthy, the arrival of the President of Pakistan and the guest of honor for the parade was exceptional. The arrival of President, Dr Arif Alvi, was announced by the call of trumpeters. A few minutes later, the President arrived in a traditional and colorful horse-drawn carriage. He was escorted by the president’s bodyguards, who have the privilege of receiving the Pakistani flag personally from the great Quaid-e-Azam in 1948. The president was then paid respect by the Parade Commander in the form of a presidential salute. The national anthem was then sung by every participant at the parade with utmost reverence, which showcased the enthusiasm of the Pakistani nation. 

The parade officially commenced after the recitation of a few verses from the Holy Quran. After the recitation, the Parade Commander requested the guest of honor to inspect the parade. The President mounted the jeep and reviewed the smart troops of Punjab, Baloch. Frontier Corps, Sindh, Northern Light Infantry, and Mujahid Regiment. He also inspected the fleet of Navy, Air Force, the flag-bearers, Pakistan Rangers (Punjab), Pakistan Coast Guards (who were participating for the first time), Sindh Police, lady officers, Commando Battalion and Special Services Group.

The thrilling ceremony started with the classic fly-past under the command of Air Chief Marshal Zahir Ahmed Baber Sidhu, NI (M). This fly-past held immense importance as the recently acquired 4.5+ generation J-10C fighter jets were displayed in front of the participants at the parade. The Air Chief Marshal in his magnificent F-16, along with two J-10C jets, inaugurated the fly-past and presented a salute to the President in a splendid manner. Later, the audience was in awe when they saw other fighter jets, which included the F-16, JF-17 Thunder, Mirages, F-7 PG, P-3C Orion, and Karakoram Eagles. 
The fly-past was a symbolic message to the enemies of Pakistan, as it openly displayed that no matter what happens, the airspace of Pakistan is always guarded by diligent pilots and the best aircraft in the world. In his address after the fly-past, President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, congratulated the nation. He stated that “today we are not only presenting a tribute to our forefathers, but also pledging that we will always value the freedom and sovereignty of our beloved country. We should keep in mind that the purpose of creating Pakistan was to create an Islamic welfare state that practically demonstrates a society characterized by equality, and where the rights of religious minorities are safeguarded.” The president also talked about the human rights violations in Kashmir and emphasized that the United Nations must take notice and act upon the resolutions regarding the Kashmir issue. 

After the presidential address, the march of all the contingents started. These contingents also included boy scouts and girl guides. This was followed by the mechanized column of the Armored Corps, Mechanized Infantry, Artillery, Pakistan Army Air Defense, Corps of Engineers, Corps of Signals, Pakistan Air Force Air Defense, and SPD. The mechanized columns included the M113P, the VCC-2 APC, the SH-15 advanced artillery system, and the howitzer guns. Likewise, the indigenously developed Al-Khalid-1, the VT-4 main battle tank, and the T-80 UD were also included. The short and long-range missiles, including Babur-1A, Ra’ad-II, Nasr, Ghauri, Shaheen-II, and 1-A, were also displayed. Besides this, high-to-medium air defense systems like LY-80, FM-90, and HQ-9, along with many other advanced military hardware, like advanced radars and communication systems, were a part of this mighty display. 

After the presentation of Pakistan’s mighty defense hardware, the aviators of Pakistan Army Aviation, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force performed a fly-past under the command of Major General Nadeem Yousaf, General Officer Commanding Army Aviation. The aircraft used in this fly-past were Cobra Attack Helicopters, Bell-412, MI-17, Sea-Kings, Zulu Niners, and Augusta Westland 0139. The SSG Commandos hanging down from the Puma Helicopters demonstrated the SPIE techniques, which grabbed the attention of the crowd. This enchanting helicopter fly-past was not the only thing that mesmerized the attendees of the parade. On the one hand, the thundering and power-packed performances of the JF-17 Thunder, and F-16 were jaw-dropping, while on the other hand, the exceptional maneuverability of the Sherdils who were in control of these aircraft was another game altogether. Then came the most awaited performance, the freefall, which caught the attention of every individual. The paratroopers from the Shehbaz, Sea-Eagle and Shahpar teams of the tri-services were a pleasant yet electrifying sight for the viewers. These sky-divers were led by the General Officer Commanding SSG, Major General Adil Rehmani (Tamgha-e-Basalat). The colorful parachutes of these paratroopers looked refreshing, however, in the case of the enemy’s advance, they can be camouflaged, helping the paratroopers to invade the enemy’s territory. The General Officer Commanding SSG, Major General Adil Rehmani, gracefully landed right after the successful landing of the paratroopers and then presented the Pakistani flag to the guest of honor, President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi. 

Inclusivity and diversity are the key features of Pakistani society, and organizers of the Pakistan Day Parade never overlook this fact. Therefore, to signify the wide cultural and traditional range of Pakistani society, beautifully decorated floats from all the provinces are displayed, which reflect the lives of people from all over Pakistan from a multi-dimensional perspective. However, this year, the float of the OIC was also incorporated into the parade as Pakistan was hosting the 48th session of the OIC CFM in Islamabad. The flags of Pakistan and OIC were hoisted on the float, signifying that Pakistan stands in solidarity with all member states of the OIC. The float also had flags of all member states, which represented brotherhood and unity. The five pillars at the back of the float represented the five pillars of Islam, and the history of all the sessions of the OIC held in Pakistan was also displayed alongside the five pillars. This was followed by the cultural floats of Kashmir, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh. Finally, the parade ended with the cheerful float of Inter-Services Public Relations. Children from different schools dressed in cultural attire were enjoying the song, Shad Rahay Pakistan, sung by Shuja Haider and Yashal Shahid, thus summing up the Pakistan Day Parade of 2022 on a patriotic note. 

Pakistan Day Parade is not only a ceremony, rather it also illustrates that a country’s security is integral to its sovereignty, for which it is also important to incorporate technologically advanced military equipment. Moreover, it is a political and diplomatic strategy that ensures that a soft, yet powerful image of Pakistan is portrayed in the international arena. Finally, it brings the people of Pakistan closer to each other and integrates unity and patriotism among them.

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