Pakistan Military Holds First Republic Day Parade in 7 Years
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Pakistan held its first Republic Day parade in seven years on Monday, full of flag-waving pomp and aerial military expertise, a symbolic show of strength in the war against the Taliban months after a militant attack on a school killed 132 children.
The Pakistan Day parade, complete with a 31-gun dawn salute, was held amid tight security. Cellular phone networks were blocked as a precaution to thwart any strike by militants, who have often used mobile phone signals to trigger bombs.
No parades had been held since 2008, following an escalation in the military's conflict with the Pakistani Taliban, Reuters reported.
But the military says the militants have been on the run since the army launched an operation last year to dislodge insurgents from hideouts in the northwestern tribal regions of Khyber and North Waziristan, on the rugged border with Afghanistan.
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 sent a message to rival India. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947 and continuing mistrust is a factor behind conflict in various parts of the region, including Afghanistan.