Asia

Pakistan holds first national day parade for seven years

Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain (C) inspects a guard of honour alongside long-range Shaheen II ballistic missiles during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pakistan showed off its long-range ballistic missiles

Pakistan has held its first Republic Day parade in seven years amid tight security.

The ceremony marks the anniversary of a 1940 resolution calling for a separate homeland for Muslims in India.

Its resumption is a symbolic show of military strength, analysts say, from a nation which has been badly affected by militant attacks.

In his address Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain said that the "end of terrorism" was near.

Pakistan last held a Republic Day parade in 2008 because of fears militants might target it.

The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil, who was at Monday's parade in the capital Islamabad, said it was an opportunity for Pakistan to show off its military might to the public, with units of all infantry divisions taking part. Air force shows were held and there was an ostentatious display of weaponry.

President Hussain praised forces taking part in the operation against the Pakistani Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan, and paid tribute to the more than 150 victims of the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar in December.

"I salute the armed forces, those that have fought to protect us and those who have given their lives to protect this country. To the nation of Pakistan I say that the end of terrorism is near. We have a resolve and we will defeat them," he said.

But he also stressed that Pakistan wanted to co-operate peacefully with its neighbours, saying that Islamabad was enjoying "growing relations" with Afghanistan, and was continually trying to "improve ties" with India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "I have written to Pakistan PM... conveying my greetings on the National Day of Pakistan. It is my firm conviction that all outstanding issues can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence."

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