23rd March, 1940 holds a special place in the heart of every Pakistani for it was the day when the concept of a free Muslim homeland was put forward through a unanimous resolution. The passage of the Lahore Resolution laid the way forward for the consciousness of an exclusive Muslim homeland.
Quaid knew that if the Muslims proceeded to reside in India, which was under considerable Hindu majority’s influence, they would suffer due to heavy-handed religious discrimination in all walks of life, therefore, he demanded an independent state for the Muslims where he knew that they would be free from any sort of discrimination, segregation, and oppression. This was a decision that changed the map of the subcontinent as we know it. He was the only man who stood up against an Empire that had colonized him and his people, and won. In his Allahabad Address of 1930 Allama Muhammad Iqbal addressed the masses and put forth the idea of a separate Muslim homeland with such rationality that it convinced every Muslim and the cause gained momentum, so much so that now we are fortunate enough to live free of tyranny and prejudice of any sort, be it caste, creed, heritage or faith.
Any national public celebration of a state has two major objectives, the first being national pride and unity while the second is a show of strength and ability to guard against any threats. As we know, this world exists to benefit those who have power on their side therefore a projection of such manner projects your ability to not only defend yourself but also deter any threat.
‘Pakistan Day’ is recognized and celebrated in the Federal and Provincial capitals with 31 and 21 guns salute respectively. There are several skeptics who deem such revelries of patriotic nature to be inherently impractical as they don't outwardly seem to be influencing or contributing to the economy/society, however, such celebrations are important for both nation and state-building. The Joint Services Pakistan Day Parade provides grounds for unity and harmony between the state institutions and diverse communities, strengthening the bond and bringing them together.
It is a tribute that we pay annually to our Founding Fathers and martyrs who have all lived and died for the Pakistan which we live in today, a just land for all. The decorations and celebrations include several portraits and banners showcasing the lives of our national heroes and shuhada to make sure that we do not forget or take their sacrifices for granted and pass them on to future generations.
The parade itself is a disciplined affair, all important dignitaries from not just Pakistan but also from friendly nations as well as several high ranking officials are present on this day to participate in the festivities. Among those present are President, Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Minister of Defense, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and tri-services chiefs among other dignitaries.
Although the parade takes place in Islamabad, there is an emblematic representation in Lahore and other provincial capitals as well. Minar-e-Pakistan resides in the capital of Punjab. It has symbolic importance for the people of Pakistan as it was built to represent the birth of Pakistan’s independence and freedom. It was built with great care from years 1960 to 1968, in Iqbal Park where the Lahore Resolution was originally signed.
This year too the parade took place with the same fervor and zeal at Shakarparian Parade Ground, Islamabad. Despite a one-day delay due to weather conditions the display of military might and patriotism remained unparalleled.
The parade held on March 25, 2021 included the fly-past of fighter jets of Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force led by Chief of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Baber Sidhu, presenting salute to the event’s chief guest President Arif Alvi. Fighter jets including F-16, JF-17, Mirage, AWACs, C-130 and P-3C Orion participated in the fly-past.
The events of the parade often follow a similar pattern; it starts with the commentators welcoming the people and the guests of honor to the venue. The Parade Ground is decorated in the greens of the Pakistani flag along with those of partaking contingents and of the armed forces as well as their respective regiments.
The procession included contingents of the Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force, Special Services Group (SSG), Light Commando Battalion (LCB) Frontier Corps, Rangers, Islamabad Police, Frontier Constabulary, Airport Security Force, Ladies Contingent, Boy Scouts, all marching to the beat of military bands. Mechanized columns including tanks, APCs, air defense system, rocket launchers, radars as well as indigenously built UAVs and long-range missiles Ra’ad, Nasr, Babar, Ghaznavi and Shaheen added to the event’s splendor. The Engineering Corps also presented its state-of-the-art equipment. It was followed by a breathtaking display of acrobatics by JF-17 and formations of Sherdil, spreading colours in the sky which left the audience spellbound. Alongside Pakistan Air Force aircraft, the famed Turkish Air Force aerobatic team, Soloturk, made a special appearance. A visual marker of the brotherly bonds between Turkey and Pakistan, a Turkish Soloturk pilot, Serdar Dogan, also presented dazzling maneuvers. The Turkish military band played tunes of Dil Dil Pakistan, Jaan Jaan Pakistan, wrapping the spectators in a warm embrace of familiarity and collective pride for their country.
The display of Pakistan’s cultural diversity was captured by the floats which served as a visual representation of AJ&K, Gilgit-Baltistan and all provinces. Even at this point the laudable services of the frontline medical workers were not far from the nation’s mind. Floats representing the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the frontline workers against COVID-19 also joined in the Parade.
The paratroopers from friendly nations included Bahrain, Iraq, Palestine, Sri Lanka and Turkey joined in exhibiting free fall carrying the national flags.
The reason why Pakistan Day is celebrated apart from Independence Day is due to its metaphorical significance, the passing of the Lahore Resolution did not only lead to creating a separate state, but it also gave hope to the people, uniting them for one common goal.
The day is not only celebrated in Pakistan but in various other states which hold friendly relations with Pakistan. There are often troops and air force contingents invited over from other countries to participate in this national celebration to strengthen alliances. In the past, participatory contingents have been featured from Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani Paratroopers), Turkey (Janissary Mehter Band), Saudi Arabia (Saudi Special Forces), and Jordan (Jordanian armed forces band). The Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed was the guest of honor in the celebrations of 2019 which goes to show that the parade not only has national support but it is also a representation of our brotherly ties with other countries.
President Dr. Arif Alvi also met with individuals whose outstanding contributions brought pride and honor to the nation. There is also a service that involves placing wreaths on the mausoleums of the Founding Fathers; Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal.
This parade reminds people of their identity which often gets blurred by narrow prejudiced based affiliations, it brings their loyalties back to the state and its people by removing discriminatory barriers that undermine the progress of the state and can cause internal conflict.
“Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim Ideology which has to be preserved, which has come to us as a precious gift and treasure and which, we hope others will share with us”
The Pakistani people are a force to be reckoned with. Their love for the country, which they fought tooth and nail for, is evident in every way that counts. Pakistan is currently facing several difficulties from different avenues; the pandemic has dealt a deadly hand to the economy, India is dead set on promoting instability and conflict within Pakistan using its nexus of terror cells and intelligence agencies from across the Afghanistan border, then there is the matter of the forceful subjugation of Kashmir. Despite all of these rampant issues, neither the state nor its citizens have let up on the hope that they can and will conquer this as well. It is this spark which we celebrate every year on 23rd March.
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