Pakistan is celebrating the anniversary of its nuclear tests with great enthusiasm and fervor, stressing that the country’s intention to obtain nuclear capabilities was only intended to bring peace and balance power in the region in the face of India’s continuing hostility.
May 28 is celebrated as Youm-e-Takbeer in the country every year which means the ‘day of greatness’. The day marks the achievement of the country in making its way to the global nuclear club and it is also commemorated as the National Science Day to highlight the achievements of Pakistan in the science field.
On this day in 1998, Pakistan conducted five positive nuclear tests in Balochistan’s north-west Chaghi district in response to its neighbor, India’s continuing aggressive posturing. Pakistan’s decision to test its nuclear weapons in the second week of the same month of the same year was followed by six nuclear tests by India.
The tests put Pakistan at number seventh of nuclear weapon states and first in the Muslim world. That gave the region a strategic balance and stability.
Then, Nawaz Sharif and the military leadership did not bow to pressure from the foreign and the western world which did not want Pakistan to test its nuclear weapons. India’s nuclear tests caused a popular uproar in Pakistan that made the leaders realize that testing nuclear weapons had become indispensable now.
As a result, Pakistan tested its nuclear devices successfully while refusing millions of dollars worth of aid offers. The decision made the security of the nation unsurpassable.
The Youm-e-Takbeer means Pakistan did not want nuclear proliferation and, in response to Indian direct aggression and attacks, has attained nuclear capability. After East Pakistan’s debacle in 1971, and India’s first nuclear tests in 1974, code-named Pokhran-I, Pakistan was forced to develop a nuclear weapons program under the nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Another aspect that contributed to Pakistan’s attempts to develop its own nuclear program in the 1970s under the regime of then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was Indian occupation of the Kashmir region, atrocities committed by its forces there and its refusal of granting the citizens of the area the right to self-determination.
This forced Pakistan to pursue its nuclear program to discourage further aggression and hostility against India.
The two countries had fought two wars before the war of 1971. India and Pakistan fought over Kashmir soon after their independence. Both countries fought a full-scale war on 6 September 1965.
In February 1964, Pakistan’s then Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto while addressing the United Nations Security Council had said that if India developed a nuclear bomb, Pakistan would also develop it to deter its nuclear capability.
With all these contributing reasons for Pakistan’s difficult decision to conduct nuclear testing, there was an atmosphere of instability in the world when India fired its nuclear weapons on May 11, 1998. Pakistanis feared that India’s nuclear capabilities had created a power imbalance in the region, and would intensify further in Indian Occupied Kashmir and across the LoC.
Despite obtaining nuclear capabilities, Pakistan has consistently supported a nuclear-free South Asia, while displaying its staunch commitment to non-proliferation and global peace. Pakistan has also developed its robust control and command systems to ensure comprehensive safety using nuclear equipment.