The preparations for the special Parade of Armed Forces on the Occasion of Pakistan Day on March 23 are in full swing. March 23 holds special importance in Pakistan. On that day in 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted a resolution for the creation of independent states for Muslims in northwestern and eastern British India.

The resolution was later interpreted to have been a specific call for the creation of Pakistan. therefore, this March 23 parade is meant to illustrate Islamabad’s resolve to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland with full force and at the same time send messages to both its nuclear-armed neighbor that it is a capable yet responsible nuclear state.

Embark on a journey through time, from 1956 to 2024, as we delve into the splendid history of this iconic parade.

Originating in Karachi in 1956, the special parade of the armed forces has traversed through Dhaka, Lahore, and Rawalpindi, symbolizing the unity and strength of the nation. Over the years, it has welcomed participation from armed forces not only from Pakistan but also from countries like Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and China.

The first Republic Day parade, as it was then called, was held on 23 March 1956 to mark the day when Pakistan became a republic on the same day. The parade was held at Karachi where newly appointed President of Pakistan Iskander Ali Mirza took a salute.

Simultaneously the parades were held in other major cities and military garrisons. Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army General Ayub Khan took a salute in Rawalpindi. Local Governors or military commanders took the salute in Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, and Jhelum.

The central parade where the President took a salute continued to be held at Karachi till 1960 while the Commander-in-Chief of the army took the salute at Rawalpindi. In 1961, the Republic Day was named Pakistan Day. The central Joint Services parade was held for the first time at Dhaka Racecourse where President Ayub Khan took a salute. In 1963 the central parade was held at Fortress Stadium Lahore.

The central parade was then held at Rawalpindi from 1964 to 1989 and then shifted to Islamabad in 1990.

The parade was canceled due to the political situation in the country in 1969 and 1971. In 1972 and 2002 the parade was not held due to the military’s deployment on the borders. In 2003 and 2004 the parade was not held once again due to regional situations, including war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the sudden spike in terrorism in Pakistan.

Over two weeks before the parade in 1980, a conspiracy to assassinate the then President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq by Major General Tajammul Hussain Malik during the ceremony was foiled. In 2008, the parade was suspended for an extended period due to the growing terrorism in the country and fears that an attack on the parade was imminent.

After a 7-year break, it was reconstituted in 2015 on the 75th anniversary whereas, in 1975 and 1994 the parades were cancelled due to inclement weather. The parade was canceled in 2020 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Pakistan, with the cancellation being an attempt to mitigate the fallout from the pandemic. The 2021 parade was postponed due to “inclement weather and rain” and was rescheduled to March 25.

In early March 2023, it was announced that the 2023 parade would be held on a limited scale in Aiwan-e-Sadar due to the ongoing economic crisis in the country. On the 23rd of March, the parade was postponed to March 25 due to “inclement weather”, but it was canceled the next day.

This year 2024, the Parade is announced to be held on 23 March where personnel from all three service branches, the Army, Navy, and Air Force will be participating in the parade including the Army’s strategic command force, which administers Islamabad’s land-based nuclear weapons arsenal with participation from armed forces from Azerbaijan and China.

The Pakistan Day Parade has seen the attendance of leaders and officials from various nations, further enhancing its significance on the global stage. For every patriotic Pakistani, the grand parade of the armed forces on Pakistan Day is a moment of immense pride and honor, serving as a testament to the country’s resilience and unity.

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