Youm-e-Takbeer: A day to remember
This year on 28 May, Pakistan is celebrating its 25th anniversary of becoming a proud nuclear weapon state. On this day in 1998, by successfully detonating nuclear devices in the Chagai district, Balochistan; Pakistan became the seventh nuclear power of the world. This was indeed a proud moment for every Pakistani regardless of the political affiliations. This historic day is and will continue to be remembered as the day when Pakistan affirmed not to compromise on its freedom, sovereignty and defence. The country reaffirmed and strengthened its resolve and pledge to preserve Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and deterrence against any form of aggression by its enemies.
In order to understand the significance of this day, there is a need to determine the compelling factors which led Pakistan to attain nuclear capability. Historically, both India and Pakistan have had troubled and tense ties. The relations between both states are premised on the violent partition of British India in 1947, the Jammu & Kashmir conflict and the numerous wars and clashes fought between the two nations.
Following partition of the subcontinent, India started hatching conspiracies against Pakistan, with hegemonic and aggressive policies, and to deprive people of Kashmir of their inalienable right to decide their own future in line with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Separation of East Pakistan in 1971 and the India’s nuclear explosion of 1974 were the reasons that compelled Pakistan to opt for the nuclear path. Subsequently, in response to a series of nuclear tests conducted by India on 11 and 13 May 1998, Pakistan was forced to conduct its nuclear tests and to restore the balance of power in the region. Thus the very tests of 28 May by Pakistan were a befitting reply to India’s misperception of strategic and technological monopoly.
Since the tests of 28 May, nuclear weapons of Pakistan have proven to be a significant factor to deter aggression from India and render the full-scale war with India redundant. The Pulwama episode of February 2019 and the missile fiasco of March 2022 are the perfect examples of dangerous crises between nuclear Pakistan and India which could have escalated into a full-scale war in the absence of nuclear capability with both states. Despite being a nuclear capable State, Pakistan throughout and specifically in the recent episodes of crises, has shown restraint and stuck to its very policy of maintaining peace and stability in the region.
Besides ensuring the defence at its eastern border, Pakistan, as a confident nuclear power, believes in utilizing and promoting the peaceful uses of the nuclear technology for the betterment and welfare of its people. Pakistan, being an energy-deficient state, believes that the use of nuclear power for energy generation will add much cleaner, reliable and affordable electricity to the national energy mix in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, besides energy productio, the country has actively employed nuclear technology in diverse areas including cancer diagnosis and treatment, public health, agriculture, environment protection and industry.
This day also highlights the very efforts of our scientists, engineers, technicians, diplomats and many other unsung heroes without whom it would have not been possible to become a nuclear power. Pakistan, as a responsible nuclear state, promotes the very notion of a secure and peaceful environment and stability at regional and global levels. In this regard, Pakistan takes pride to be an active member of international system and contributing in strengthening the international efforts in the realm of non-proliferation and arms control. It supports and follows the international standards on export controls, nuclear safety and security at national level. International community must justifiably mainstream Pakistan as a nuclear power rather than downplaying the nation’s capability by blocking access to nuclear technology.
Conclusively, it is pertinent to claim that after 25 years of conducting the nuclear tests, Pakistan has been able to deter the foreign aggression while maintaining peace and stability in the region. Besides achieving parity with India and enabling it in offsetting Indian conventional superiority, nuclear tests yielded many important benefits for Pakistan in the development sector. In addition to enhance total security, the nuclear capability also gave Pakistan international status and visibility, helped in sustaining its support for right of self-determination for the people of Jammu & Kashmir, boosted national pride and elevated the country’s technological status. Every year Youm–e-Takbeer is celebrated with zeal and fervor in order to commemorate the very decision of Pakistan to ensure state sovereignty, security, to maintain strategic stability and ensuring peace in the region in the face of India’s persistent hegemonic policies.
—Author is working as a Senior Research Officer at Center of International Strategic Studies (CISS), Islamabad.