It would be a “mistake” for India to view Pakistan with the eye of pre-partition and its desire for peace should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness, President Arif Alvi said on Saturday as Islamabad displayed its military might on the National Day. Alvi was addressing the annual Pakistan Day Parade here to commemorate the resolution passed by the All-India Muslim League on the day in 1940 in Lahore demanding a separate country for Muslims.
The National Day featured a joint parade by the army, air force and navy, display of military hardware, along with open and veiled anti-India rhetoric. “It was the duty and responsibility of Pakistan to respond to the Indian aggression… We responded with better strategy,” Alvi said, apparently referring to the downing of an Indian Air Force jet. Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 14.
India launched a counter-terror operation against a JeM training camp in Balakot. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1. Alvi said India’s actions jeopardised peace in the region. “It would a mistake on part of India to view Pakistan with the eye of pre-partition. Doing so would be very dangerous for the region’s stability.
“India will have to accept Pakistan as a reality, and it must come to the conclusion that dialogue is the only way to resolve issues,” Alvi said at the ceremony where Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was the guest of honour. He said Pakistan wants peaceful co-existence but its “desire for peace should not be misconstrued as weakness”.
“We are a peaceful nation, but are not oblivious to our defence, and the same has been proved in the recent demonstration of Pakistan’s defence capability,” he said, adding that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and respects integrity and sovereignty of other states. Alvi said the country is safe and moving on the path of progress and development after effectively combating the menace of terrorism. The president also inspected the parade before his address.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mehmood Hayat, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, naval chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi and Chief of Air Staff Mujahid Anwar Khan attended the ceremony. According to official sources in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a letter to Khan, greeting people of Pakistan on the eve of its National Day and highlighting the importance of a terror-free South Asia.
Modi, in his message, said it was time for the people of the sub-continent to work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence, they said. Contingents, paratroopers and fighter jets from Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Bahrain and Sri Lanka also took part in the parade. Shahper and Buraq drones were also displayed in the parade along with different missile systems including Nasr, Babur, Shaheen 1, Ghuri, Shaheen 111 among others, and defence systems as well as tanks.
The day dawned with 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salute in provincial capitals. Special prayers were also offered in mosques after morning prayers for the country’s progress and prosperity.