Operation in final phase: President

WEB DESK:President Mamnoon Hussain reaffirmed on Wednesday the resolve to take the on-going military operation against terrorism and extremism to its logical conclusion.

Addressing the Pakistan Day Parade, the President said the ongoing military operation against terrorism has entered its final phase in North Waziristan and the enemy will not be allowed to cast an evil eye on the country as its armed forces are fully equipped to foil their designs with an iron hand. The joint military parade was held at the Parade Ground near the Shakarparian hills.

The president maintained that weaponry is only for the defence of the motherland. “We have never indulged in any arms race but the requirements of the armed forces will be fully met for the security of the country,” he added. The President said Pakistan desires cordial relations with all the countries especially the neighbours. However, this desire of ours should not be misconstrued as our weakness.

He reiterated that Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their right to self-determination. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif witnessed the parade, and were later joined by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman on the podium.

Joint services’ Pakistan Day parade ceremony was held at the Parade Ground near Shakarparian in Islamabad. The ceremony kicked off with a splendid fly past of aircraft of Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy led by Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman. The formations of fighter jets, including F-16s, presented a salute to the chief guest by flying over the dais.

Troops of the parade included contingents of the Pakistan Army, Navy, Air Force, Frontier Corps, Northern Light Infantry, Mujahid Force, Islamabad Police, tri-service Lady officers, tri-service Armed Forces Nursing Service, Girls Guide, Boys Scouts, Special Service Group from three Services, mechanised columns of Armoured Corps, Artillery, Army Air Defence, Signals, Engineers, Army Strategic Force Command, Camel Band and President’s body guards.

Mechanized columns including tanks, rocket launchers, indigenously developed short and long-range missiles, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles were showcased at the parade. Floats depicting culture of the four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan were also part of the parade. The skydivers of the Special Services Groups presented heart touching and thrilling free fall from ten thousand feet while carrying the national flags and those of three services.

The participating paratroopers represented the three services, with jumpers from the Shahbaz team of Army’s Special Services Group (SSG) leading the jump, followed by the Sea Eagle team of Pakistan Navy and Shahpar team of the PAF. A smartly-clad and agile contingent of Pakistan Navy including lady officers, Female Medical Technicians (FMTs) and Special Services Group Sky Diving Team were part of the parade. In addition, Pakistan Navy aircraft P3C Orion and Z9EC helicopters also flew past in this impressive parade.

Captain Adnan PN led P3Cs formation flypast.P3Cs -Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, known as “Flying Destroyers” fitted with Anti-Surface Missiles, Anti-Submarine Torpedoes, Depth Charges, Bombs, and Mines. Proudly known as ‘STINGRAY’, Pakistan Navy Z9EC helicopters are equipped with state of art Radar & Dipping Sonar and armed with torpedoes and depth charges; and designed to hunt enemy submarines.

Led by Cdr Kashif Raza PN, Special Services Group (Navy) SSG(N) was also part of Tri Services Sky Diving Team. This team exhibited various free fall jumping techniques, which included complicated manoeuvres and landing at targets with precise accuracy. The ceremony culminated with presentation of national songs by the students of different schools. On the occasion, the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff mingled with the students attired in different regional clothes.

The government placed tight security measures in the capital city including suspending of mobile phones from 5 am to 3 pm, closing all the markets within 3 kilometres from the parade venue till 2 pm. Around 4 dozen seminaries situated around the venue falling in sector I-8, G-6, G-7, Rawal Dam Chowk and Margalla Town were also closed. Islamabad Highway from Khana Pull area to Zeropoint Islamabad remained closed for all kind of traffic. Police as well as army and rangers were deployed around the parade venue to check any untoward incident.

Islamabad police and traffic police also helped the authorities in guiding the people coming from other parts of the country to twin cities by providing them with the alternate traffic routes. Traffic coming from Azad Kashmir and Murree were diverted from Kashmir Chowk to Missile Chowk Rawalpindi and those who were coming from Gujar Khan were diverted from Rawat to Ketcheri. Entry was restricted at Expressway, Faizabad and Zero Point and only the pass-holders were allowed to move towards the parade venue near Shakarparian.