Pakistan Monday held its first national day military parade for seven years, a display of pageantry aimed at showing the country has the upper hand in the fight against the Taliban.
Mobile phone networks in the capital were disabled to thwart potential bomb attacks, some roads were closed to the public and much of the city was under heavy guard for the event.
The annual Pakistan Day parade was last held in 2008 before authorities abandoned it because of fears it could be targeted as Taliban militants increased their attacks on the military.
The military says the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is on the rack now thanks to an offensive waged against militant strongholds since June last year, allowing the display of martial pomp to be restarted.
The event, presided over by President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif, was held on a parade ground in leafy Islamabad.
The event comes just over three months after TTP gunmen massacred more than 150 people, most of them children, at a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, an atrocity that shocked even conflict-weary Pakistan.
President Hussain paid tribute to soldiers fighting militants in the restive northwest, calling them his sons and pledging to go to the front line to hug them.
“I also salute the innocent martyrs of the Army Public School Peshawar, who by sacrificing their lives made it clear to the enemy that this nation cannot be defeated,” the president said.
Both modern and more traditional elements of Pakistan’s military arsenal were on display, from nuclear-capable missiles and the new home-made armed Burraq drone to a camel-mounted musical band.
There were fly-pasts by the air force, including some dizzying aerobatic displays by JF-17 Thunder fighters, which are locally produced in cooperation with close ally China.
Nuclear-capable Nasr and Shaheen missiles, which have a range of up to 1,500 kilometres (900 miles), and Babur cruise missiles were also paraded.
India hosted US President Barack Obama as guest of honour at its own Republic Day parade in January, warming ties between Washington and New Delhi, Pakistan’s arch-rival.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he had written to his counterpart Sharif to congratulate him on Monday.