Chinese troops join Pakistan Day parade in display of growing friendship
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Chinese troops join Pakistan Day parade in display of growing friendship

ARMED Chinese troops joined a military parade on Pakistan Day on Thursday in a sign of deepening ties between Beijing and Islamabad.

Soldiers from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest, had an audience with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Pakistan’s president Mamnoon Hussain called the event “historic.”

The Pakistan Armed Forces flexed its capability with long-range rockets, tanks and other military hardware. Saudi Arabian and Turkish troops also participated in the parade.

The country’s national republic day commemorates the passing of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 which popularised the name “Pakistan”, and the subsequent adoption of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s constitution in 1956.

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A woman waves Pakistan national flags as she watches the Pakistan Day military parade with others in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 23, 2017. Source: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

Chinese participation in the parade signals closer relations between the two countries, who share mutual antipathy towards neighbouring India. China built its largest embassy in the world in Islamabad in February 2015 and Pakistan considers China an “all-weather” ally.

Recent years have seen the countries become even closer on the back of the US$57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Beijing-funded network of road, rail and pipelines that will link western China with Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

SEE ALSO: China opens ‘largest’ embassy in Pakistan, strengthens South Asia presence

The project is an important part of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt, as the country calls its plan for investment across Europe and Asia.

China has long urged Islamabad to crack down on Islamist militants, concerned about links with Islamic separatists in the volatile far-western province of Xinjiang.

Towards that end, Pakistan’s powerful military looks set to reinstate secret military courts to try civilian terror suspects, Fox News reported on Thursday.

“The military has basically ruled the country almost since its inception,” said Michael Kugelman, the deputy director and senior of associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center.

“The military courts are a confirmation of how the military is in the driver’s seat when it comes to going after terrorists.”

The world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, was lit up with the Pakistani flag on Thursday night to mark the occasion.

Ironically, mistreatment of South Asian migrant workers during the construction of the megatower has marred its reputation.

Pakistani officials met with seven Taliban leaders in Islamabad on Friday, ahead of peace talks organised by China, Pakistan and Russia to be hosted in Moscow in April.