Pakistanis celebrate National Day with military parade

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistanis celebrated Wednesday their National Day with a military parade in the capital, Islamabad, showcasing this Islamic nation’s elite army units and high-tech weaponry. On display were short, medium, and long-range missiles, tanks, fighter jets and other hardware.

Troops, including female soldiers, marched past a stand, saluting President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and other officials.

The parade was also witnessed by foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Countries who are attending a conference in Islamabad. Thousands of people chanted “Long Live Pakistan” as air force jets flew over, showing off the country’s air power as paratroopers jumped from helicopters.

Pakistan celebrates the National Day to commemorate March 23, 1940. On that day the Muslim leadership in the eastern city of Lahore demanded independence from British rule.

This year’s military parade was held about two weeks after Pakistan’s military said an unarmed surface-to-surface missile launched from neighboring India violated Pakistan’s airspace and ended up in eastern Punjab province, damaging a wall in a residential area and endangering civilians and commercial flights.

India says the missile was fired by mistake and a probe was underway.

In his speech, President Alvi called for making the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation more effective by forming unity among Muslim countries. He said that Pakistan was a peace-loving country. “We will never make any compromise on our sovereignty,” he said.

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