The Pakistan Day military parade was held at the Parade Ground today to mark Pakistan Day. Visiting Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) dignitaries were also present on the occasion.
As social media debates the need for such parades, it is worth recalling the history behind the parade. What is today known as Pakistan Day was originally not started as a means of muscle-flexing and displaying military might? It was once marked as ‘Republic Day’ to honour the Constitution and democratic values.
When Pakistan adopted its first constitution on March 23, 1956, and became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the parade was started to celebrate the end of the dominion status. The event was thus meant to celebrate democracy and the Constitution. For two years, in 1956 and 1957, the country marked 23 March as Republic Day to celebrate the Constitution.
But in 1958, the then commander-in-chief General Ayub Khan replaced ‘Republic Day’ with ‘Pakistan Day’, thereby changing the nature of celebrations. The parade was now centred around military might instead of constitution. The military parade that was earlier held on August 14 began to be held on March 23. The reason given was that monsoons were not ideal for military parades. As a result, most of the younger generation today does not know of the true significance of March 23.