Pakistan is marking the 22nd anniversary of successfully conducting nuclear tests.
Yaum-e-Takbeer (The day of greatness) is celebrated as a national day in Pakistan in commemoration of the nuclear tests. On this day in 1998, Pakistan carried out five successful tests of its own in Chaghi, Balochistan followed by another one on May 30th in Kharan.
Each year, the day is celebrated to commemorate the historic day when the country conducted the nuclear tests in 1998 as a response and in self-defence to the nuclear tests and accompanying hostile posturing by India.
After the tests were conducted successfully, Pakistan became the seventh nation in the world to possess nuclear weapons and the first Islamic country to do so.
History of Confrontation
The independence of Pakistan created a direct confrontation with India and the newly-born country was faced with an existential crisis and security challenges which it fought despite all obstacles and lack of resources.
India continued to create further obstacles and imposed war such as the 1948 conflict in Kashmir. This was followed by the 1965 war in which India suffered an embarrassing defeat. In 1974, India shocked the world when it conducted nuclear tests in Rajasthan close to Pakistani’s border.
This is the moment when the civil and military leadership decided that Pakistan must also become a nuclear state in response to Indian hegemony in the state.
Pakistan is one of nine states to possess nuclear weapons and has an estimated 150-160 warheads. Pakistan, India and North Korea are the only nuclear states who are not signatorries of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Pakistan began developing nuclear weapons in January 1972 under Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He delegated the program to the Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Munir Ahmad Khan to have the bomb ready by the end of 1976.
In 1974, Abdul Qadeer Khan was brought from Europe as the PAEC was falling behind schedule and having considerable difficulty producing fissile material. He headed the Kahuta Research Lab (KRL) which marked the beginning of Pakistan’s pursuit of nuclear deterrence capability.
The actual tests
Prime Minister Nawaz ordered the launching of the nuclear bomb test in response to the Indian threats despite immense efforts by the international community to stop the tests,
Yaum-e-Takbeer was officially signed by the Nawaz Sharif. It was first celebrated by giving awards such as Chagai Medal to various individuals and industries in the field of science and industries.
The government also established the Chagai I Medal and it was first awarded to the scientists of Pakistan in 1998 who witnessed the tests. The graphite mountains are visibly shown in the gold medallion and equal ribbon stripes of yellow, red and white.
Doctrine and Nuclear Deterrence
Pakistan has refused to adopt a ‘no-first-use doctrine indicating that it would strike India with nuclear weapons. This nuclear posture has a gnificant influence on India’s decision and ability to retaliate.
The theory of ‘nuclear deterrence’ has been interpreted by various governments. It was officially adopted in 1998 as part of Pakistan’s defence theory but has remained much before. Pakistan pursued a nuclear weapons development program to stop Indian hegemony and war hysteria.
Former military dictator and President Zia-ul-Haq allegedly told Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 that, “If your forces cross our borders by an inch, we are going to annihilate your cities.”
Pakistan has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Since 2004, the United States government has been concerned about the safety of nuclear facilities and weapons in Pakistan and expressed fears they may fall in the hands of non-state actors.
Pakistan had dismissed concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and said the country has a professional and robust system to monitor its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan remains a force to be reckoned and no nation has dared to cast doubts ever since.