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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, February 19, 2018

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Indigenous drone displayed by Pakistan at Republic Day parade

The celebrations of the Republic Day

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A grand parade of Pakistan's military strength on Monday to mark its Republic Day celebrations included display of its first locally manufactured armed drone.

The celebrations of the Republic Day after seven years, comes in the backdrop of Pakistan's war on terror.

The ceremony, which marked the anniversary of a 1940 resolution calling for a separate homeland for Muslims in India, was held after a gap of seven years to underscore improved security in the country.

The Pakistan Day parade, complete with a 31-gun dawn salute, was held amid tight security in Islamabad. It demonstrated aerial military expertise with fighter planes and helicopters flying over the scenic capital city.

Among the major highlights of the parade was the unveiling of the indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle Burraq that is considered a key element in Pakistan's ongoing battle against Islamist militant groups.

Mechanised columns including tanks, rocket launchers, indigenously developed short and long range missiles including Nasr, Babar, Shaheen-1, Shaheen II and radars were also showcased along with tableaux depicting the varied and rich culture of the four provinces.

The resumption of the parade after seven years is a symbolic show of military strength particularly in the backdrop of Pakistan major offensive against Taliban militants since last summer that has claimed lives of thousands of Islamist fighters.

The day of military might was traditionally used to send a message to neighbouring India a nuclear powered rival with which Pakistan has fought three wars since 1947. The two nations are still struggling with bilateral tensions including a territorial dispute over the Himalayan Kashmir region.

Among those who enjoyed the sights and sounds of the military might were Pakistani civilian and military leadership.

President Mamnoon Hussain in his address said that the "end of terrorism" in Pakistan was near as he praised forces taking part in the operation against the Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan.

"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.

Hussain also paid tribute to the more than 150 victims of the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar in December.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who attended the parade, issued a statement warning of the threat from anti-national elements.

"Pakistan is resolved to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland," Sharif said.

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