May 28 nuke tests reinforced power equilibrium in South Asia

ISLAMABAD, May 27 (APP): The Pakistani leadership, notwithstanding external Western pressures and Indian hegemonic designs to tilt power balance through its nuclear tests, opted courageously in 1998 to respond, and restored the power balance in South Asia through six tests.

With such tactical and sagacious response by Pakistan on May 28, 1998, it became “a red letter day” in the country’s history, silencing the belligerent ruling junta in its neighbourhood that was clamouring to impose another war on Pakistan with its ill-conceived expansionist designs.

The day, now remembered as Youm-e-Takbeer, is being celebrated every year across the country as a day of national pride and thanksgivings which made Pakistan the seventh nuclear nation of the world and the first Muslim state, having the nuclear arsenal in its defense stockpile to exercise maximum deterrence for peaceful purposes.

Youm-e-Takbeer, which literally means the “the day when Allah’s name was exalted” regularly infuses new verve into the high soaring spirits of a nation which refused to cower down by the repeated threats of war mongering mindset in its neighourhood during the long history of “hot and cold” ties between Pakistan and India.

On March 18, after the explosions, Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani clearly warned Pakistan against trying to intensify an indigenous separatist Muslims’ movement in the Indian-Held Kashmir (IHK).

But resisting the mounting Western pressure to restrain and not to respond in kind, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif went for the bold decision to test the Pakistani nukes and thus skewed back the strategic slanting power in the region.

Amid slogans of “Allahu Akbar”, Pakistan conducted its first test on May 28, 1998, by detonating five of its primary nuclear weapons at 1030 GMT at the RasKoh hills in the Chaghai District of Balochistan. On May 30, yet another test was carried out in the same area.

Shortly after the first test, the then Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addressed the nation in these memorable words: The five tests by India had made the action “inevitable”.

“The enemy in their extreme arrogance has forgotten the rules of communication and are openly threatening us,” he candidly said.

Nawaz Sharif further said “Today’s date is history in the making. God has given us the opportunity to take this step for our country’s defense which was inevitable. We never wanted to participate in this nuclear race. We have proved to the world that we would not accept what is dictated to us.”

The credit for making the country’s defence impregnable during 1998, went to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, laying strong foundations for a stable and prosperous Pakistan.

“But, I am not the representative of a cowardly and submissive nation. The series of provocative statements that the Indian leaders have been giving after the nuclear explosions is becoming intolerable for us. Pakistanis are a self-respecting and honourable people who can sacrifice their lives to protect their honour and dignity. If these people were able to tolerate anyone’s hegemony and arrogance, this country would not have come into existence at all,” Nawaz Sharif remarked.

The programme, however, was formally initiated during the time of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after a meeting of physicists and engineers at Multan in January 1972, shortly after the 1971 War.

India tested its “device” for the first time in 1974 which compelled Pakistan to expedite its nuclear programme with renewed commitment.

After deployment of Indian missiles in June 1997 on their western border and the troops’ movement on both sides of the border led to credence that such murkier state of affairs could break an imminent war between the two countries.

Obfuscating the scene further, on May 11, 1998 India tested three of its nukes followed by yet two others on May 13 to boast of its strategic strength in the region.

May 28 was marked as the day of national solidarity which required to be celebrated in an enthusiastic and befitting manner as the second most important day in our national history.

The Pakistani nation rightfully takes pride in its nuclear capability and the May 28 day turned into the most significant day in Pakistan’s history after the Day of Independence in 1947.

On this day, people pledge that just like the Pakistani nation, its leadership, armed forces and scientists that had put together their best efforts for the protection of geographical frontiers of the country, they would make every sacrifice for safeguarding its ideological foundations.

Pakistan does not harbour any aggressive designs against any state. It has no hegemonic aspirations in the region.

Territorial integrity, political harmony and peace are the ultimate goals, behind developing our nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan neither wants to, nor is it engaged in an arms race in South Asia, and as a responsible nuclear weapon state, Pakistan will continue to support the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The present Government has expressed its serious concerns over growing conventional and strategic weapons’ trend in the region which will have adverse ramifications for peace and security on this account.

South Asia needs strategic stability and this requires serious dialogue to achieve nuclear restraint, conventional balance and conflict resolution.

The Government is committed to the Prime Minister’s vision of regional peace and wished enhancing bilateral relations with all neighbouring countries including India. Kashmir remained as a “core issue” between Pakistan and India.

The Prime Minister had proposed a four-point agenda to diffuse tension between Pakistan and India, while addressing the UN General Assembly’s 70th session in New York and urged the need for early resolution of the longstanding disputes.

Presently, Pakistan is tackling the serious challenges of terrorism, extremism and sectarianism and foiling the enemies’ designs that are aimed at destabilizing the country.

Today under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the entire nation is united on the issue of terrorism and the ongoing operations against terrorists are getting unprecedented successes.

The 46 billion $ flagship of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be a game-changer and would be another feather in the present government’s cap because strong and sound economy is prerequisite for invincible defence.