ISLAMABAD: A joint military parade of Pakistan's armed forces will take place on Pakistan Day, sources said on Monday, after a gap of seven years.
"The decision has been made to hold a joint military services parade on March 23," a top military source told Dawn on the condition of anonymity.
The parade will be organised by joint staff headquarters in Rawalpindi, which oversees the three armed forces of Pakistan.The venue for the parade is yet to be finalised, with the two vast compounds shortlisted as potential sites.
The last military parade took place on March 23, 2008 during the tenure of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf as a civilian president.
This image is from Dawn archives, March 23, 2008
Furthermore, a diplomatic source told Dawn that Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend the Pakistan Day parade as chief guest.
Both China and Pakistan are working out details of the Chinese president's visit through diplomatic channels.
Chinese authorities have been assured about maximum security during Jinping's upcoming visit.
Contingents of the Pakistan army, navy and air force are expected to arrive in Islamabad soon for parade rehearsals, with stringent security measures in place.
Last year, the military parade was cancelled for the sixth time in a row due to security reasons.
“The joint military parade has been cancelled due to security reason and deployment of troops at western borders engaged in the war against terrorism,” the defence source had said in 2014.
The decision to resume the military parade after seven years appears to be a manifestation of the military's show of strength in the wake of the shocking attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar last year, which left 150 people dead, including 132 schoolchildren.
The tragedy shook the country's conscience, with the government and military convening a Multi-Party Conference (MPC) which formed the National Action Plan (NAP).
Soon after, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the lifting of the six-year moratorium on the death penalty in terrorism cases, which has since resulted in over 20 executions. Political parties also resolved, in an emergency meeting, to create special courts overseen by military officials.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif has vowed to continue the fight against militants until they are completely eliminated from the country, with heightened military offensives in North Waziristan, where operation Zarb-i-Azb is already under way to flush out local and foreign militants.
Another show of the army's resolve to show strength and resilience in the wake of the APS attack in Peshawar was the decision to re-open the school despite fears and uncertainty regarding security in the province. COAS Raheel Sharif also attended a commemorative service on the re-opening
In Pakistan, the March 23 is venerated because it is likened to a national holiday, with some military processions that honour the day.
However, the day's true greatness is more universal as it demonstrates the ideology of the independence movement; justice for the masses through constitutional measures ranging from electoral safeguards to guaranteed representation in state institutions.
It was this day that the Muslim League declared its demand for a separate homeland to safeguard the sanctity of the rights of the 30 million Muslims in British India.
The Lahore Resolution of March 23-24, known as the Pakistan Resolution, represented a watershed in modern Indian history.
The resolution was adopted on March 24, but the first critical step towards its adoption was taken on March 23. The date came to be ingrained in Muslim consciousness over the years as the one on which they had proclaimed their separate nationhood status in India's body politic which was till then generally considered a uni-national polity.
Throughout the period of struggle (1940-47), Jinnah issued Pakistan Day messages, and public rallies were held on March 23, not March 24. And it is only because of this critical entwinement of March 23 with the proclamation of Muslim nationhood that the promulgation of the 1956 constitution, though adopted by the Constituent Assembly early in March, was fixed for March 23.