Pakistan has marked its 76th national day by flexing its military muscle with a pledge to uproot terrorism from the country. A military display showcasing the prowess of the army, naval and air forces was conducted at the Parade Ground in capital Islamabad.
Pakistan marks the national day on 23 March to commemorate the Lahore Resolution, which was passed in 1940 asking for a separate nation for Muslims.
The parade was attended by top army and civilian leaders in Pakistan. Flanked by the chiefs of the three military forces, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain oversaw the parade, which took place near the Shakarparian hills. Special prayers in mosques across the nation have also been organised.
"We are a peaceful nation. Pakistan never has and never will participate in any arms race. Pakistan's wish to be on friendly terms with its neighbours should not be considered as its weakness. Peace in Kashmir is essential and Pakistan will continue supporting its Kashmiri brethren," said the president, who was the chief guest for the event.
Security has been heightened across key places. In some vital areas, communication services have also been suspended.
The occasion also saw wishes coming in from the neighbouring nation. "Greetings to the people of Pakistan on their national day," wrote Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been attempting to improve relations with Pakistan with mixed results.
On the eve of the Pakistan Day celebrations, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, in his message to Islamabad, said: "India remains committed to peaceful, friendly and cooperative relations with Pakistan. I am of the firm conviction that our cooperation will lead to progress and prosperity in our region. I take this opportunity to extend my best wishes for your good health and well-being."
India and Pakistan are going through a mixed phase in their relations in recent times. Efforts to resume talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been stalled by terror strikes in India, which New Delhi blames on terrorists operating from Pakistani soil. The two countries have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947 – two have been over Kashmir.