Amidst problems galore
Everyone loves a parade, they say, and Pakistanis are no exception. The news that the Parade will be held for the fifth year in succession is a mark that the defeat of terrorists is progressing. The holding of this parade, an annual inevitability once, was not possible from 2008 to 2015, because of the danger to the VIPs who would be attending. The military highlight of the parade may be the new indigenously built smart missile tested on Tuesday, but the hosting of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Muhammad is expected to be the highlight of the parade. He will not be the only guest, as the Defence Minister of Azerbaijan, the COAS of Bahrain and various government officials from Oman are attending, while contingents of troops from Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia, and paratroopers from Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sri Lanka, will take part in the parade, while planes from China and Turkey will be part of the aerial display.
The holding of a military parade at a time of military confrontation with India is of great interest. The participation of so few Muslim countries, whether because of disinclination or inability, should be an eye-opener for anyone who placed any hopes on the Ummah for assistance in what India is turning into an existential struggle. While Dr Mohammad is a valued guest, the policy of inviting a regional head of state or government seems to have fizzled out after getting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena to come last year. The announcement was made by the Director General of Inter Services Public Relations. It might be forgivable, since the parade is very much an inter-services event, but it should not be forgotten that it commemorates a very civilian event, the passing of a resolution by a political party.
While the parade will allow a display of military might, there are other issues confronting the nation, equally vital, which need solutions from the elected government, and are not amenable to military methods. Foremost are the upcoming talks with the Financial Action Task Force’s Asia-Pacific Group (chaired by India, unfriendly even at the best of times) over Pakistan’s possible blacklisting if it cannot show sufficient action against money-laundering by militants. There are problems galore, and though a parade demands a lot of planning and coordination, the problems facing the country make it seem a cakewalk.