Pakistan shows off its military might during parade

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Islamabad: Pakistan wants peace with India and they should focus on health and education, the Pakistani president said on Saturday during a parade to show off its military might following a tense standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Conflict between the rivals erupted last month following a suicide bomb attack in Kashmir that killed 40 paramilitary police and brought two nuclear powered nations on the brink of war.

“We do not believe in war and want to solve problems through dialogue,” President Arif Alvi said in his Pakistani Republic Day speech.

“Instead of war we should focus on education and health.”

Saturday’s military parade included an air show featuring the Pakistani-built JF-17 fighter jet. One of the aircraft shot down the Indian plane last month.

“Today’s parade is sending the message that we are a peaceful people but we will never be oblivious of our defence,” Alvi said.

Participating troops included foot columns of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Frontier Corps K-P, Pakistan Rangers Sindh, Islamabad Police, Tri-Services Lady Officers, Tri-Services Armed Forces Nursing Service, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, and Special Service Group of the three services.

There were also mechanised columns of the Armoured Corps, Mechanised Infantry, Artillery, Army Air Defence, Army Strategic Force Command and mounted columns of the Presidents Body Guard.

Contingents of the Defence Security Force, which participated for the first time, and Mujahid Force also took part. Cultural floats representing Balochistan, Punjab, K-P, Sindh, Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan were also part of the parade.

Pakistan’s weaponry including Al-Zarrar and Al-Khalid tanks, a variety of armoured personnel carriers, and surveillance equipment such as the Giraffe radar was presented before the audience.

The parade was attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was invited to attend as the chief guest, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Khan said on Twitter earlier that he had received a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his best wishes for Republic Day and calling for peace and regional cooperation.

“I welcome PM Modi’s message to our people,” Khan said.

“I believe it’s time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address and resolve all issues.

The dispute over the former princely state of Kashmir sparked the first two of three wars between India and Pakistan after independence in 1947. They fought the second in 1965, and a third, largely over what become Bangladesh, in 1971.

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