23rd March parade


I was born in Rawalpindi and since my childhood, I have been regularly witnessing the 23rd March parade either physically or on the TV. Incidentally, my date of commission is also 23rd March, 1968. I have also had the honour of performing security duties at the parade venue at Race Course, Rawalpindi. What a morale boosting event it used to be! I would also take my children, like thousands others, to witness the fly past, the parade, the roar of tanks, the wish-wooshing helicopters and the floats of all the provinces binding us together in unison.
President General Pervez Musharraf, a commando, chickened out because of threats on his life or other flimsy pretexts and discontinued the holding of the parade. Gradually, we saw the staff cars, trucks and buses of the armed forces losing their distinction when they started displaying civil numbers. The guardians started guarding themselves by manning routes frequented by senior officers, brandishing guns pointed at the civilian public moving around with oblivion.
General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the public expected of you to bring the army ‘’back to life and in full visibility’’ of the general public rather than having a false sense of security by carrying out ‘’fortress defences’’ around offices and residential accommodations throughout Pakistan. In spite of the day in and day out and very tiring and demoralising security duties, your GHQ, Mehran Naval Base, Abbottabad raid, PAF Base, Kamra, and Peshawar airport/PAF Base, Peshawar got viciously attacked resulting in great loss of life and valuable equipment.
The Hazara community was very right in asking as to what, you as a Chief of Army Staff, had given back to the nation in spite of getting one full extra tenure at ‘gun point’.
You, as an individual, and your condescending generals, may be glorifying the fact that you, along with Nawaz Sharif, managed the continuation of democracy, but at what cost? Just ask the public. You, and the other services chiefs, opted to ‘accept’ and ‘salute’ the most corrupt and an utterly coward supreme commander of our armed forces who did not have the courage to visit the headquarters of the three services, what to talk of the operational areas.
This is your last year of service. You may have done a lot for the army as a whole but then you are answerable to the nation as well which sustains the perks and privileges of the armed forces through their taxes. It would not be out of place to expect of you to order the holding of the 23rd March parade this year. Would our coward, bunkered supreme commander have the guts to take the salute on an open dais at the parade venue? It is worthwhile to mention here that, as compared to the 23rd March parade, the holding of a non-participatory ‘Yaum-e-Shuhada’ carries less sentimental value for the general public other than for those families whose kith and kin got shaheed. It is pertinent to point out here that it was in your tenure that massive flood relief activities were ‘blacked out’ just because the political government started feeling the heat due to their inaction. Lately, the burial of shuhada, who laid their lives in various operations is also not given due importance by the army.
In view of the above, it is fervently hoped that the lost dignity of the army in particular and the remaining services in general, would be restored by you before you hand over your baton to the next chief. Holding of 23rd March parade is a national event and must be held come what may.