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A Malaysian prince serving a three-year stint with the Indian Army will Friday become the first foreigner to lead a contingent at the annual Republic Day parade here.
“It is a great honour to take part in the parade,” Captain Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, who will lead the mounted contingent of the 61 Cavalry, told reporters at a media preview of the parade Tuesday.”My father will come to watch,” declared a proud Ibrahim, the grandson of the Sultan of Johar. He was commissioned into the 61 Cavalry two years ago after passing out of the Indian Military Academy.

According to Ibrahim, it was a family tradition to train in the armed forces. “My grandfather was trained in the Malaysian Army. My father (the Johar crown prince) was trained in the US,” he explained, even as some army officers present seemed uncomfortable at his presence.

“This is a national parade. Why should a foreigner be given the honour of leading one of the most elite regiments in the Indian Army?” an officer was heard muttering under his breath. On its part, the army will be showcasing an array of electronic equipment in keeping with preparations for the network-centric battlefield of the future, the parade commander, Maj. Gen. P.C. Bharadwaj said.

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