Republic Day parade for Pakistan after seven years

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan held its first Republic Day parade in seven years on Monday, full of flag-waving pomp and aerial military expertise.

The parade was organised at the newly constructed Parade Ground near Faizabad Interchange.

The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salutes in provincial capitals.

A change of guard ceremony was held at the tomb of national poet Allama Iqbal this morning and a contingent of Pakistan Air Force assumed the guard duties.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who attended the parade, issued a statement warning of the threat from anti-state elements bent on destroying the country.

“Pakistan is resolved to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland,” Sharif said in the statement.

Military jets and helicopters flew over the picturesque, low-rise city in the warm, spring sunshine, with a sky-diving team due to show off its skills against the backdrop of the Margalla Hills, the low, forested foothills of the Himalayas.

The show of military might has traditionally also sent a message to rival India.

Pakistan Day commemorates March 23, 1940, when the Muslim League demanded the establishment of separate nations to protect Muslims in the then British colony of India.