Pakistan – India Relations: ‘Youm-e-Takbeer’ And Maintaining Balance In Region – OpEd


Pakistan has observed the 16th “Youm-e-Takbeer” anniversary of nuclear weapons test on May 28th, 1998. This day is celebrated as a national day that made Pakistan a member of an exclusive club of less than ten Nuclear States.

Ironically enough, in the West, Pakistan faced huge criticism, and being Muslim state, the nuclear tests were called an ‘Islamic Bomb’, on the other hand, a wave of joy and exultation ran through the Muslim world. The attainment of nuclear weapons gave the nation a new confidence ensuring the security of the homeland on equality and deterrence basis with its perceived enemy.

It is imperative to highlight the driving agent behind such a crucial and highly-criticized decision of conducting the nuclear weapons test by Pakistan. It is India who had actually started this race of acquisition of nuclear weapons in the region. It was India who actually upset the balance of power in the region. Despite, Pakistan long claiming that it did possess nuclear technology but did not intend to test the weapons, circumstances nudged Pakistan to test nuclear weapons for deterrence and the balancing of power. No country can overlook its security concerns and issues.

Pakistan has fought three wars and has many border collisions with its immediate neighbor India since its inception. Furthermore, India ironically designed its Pakistan centric foreign policy to prevail in its supremacy in the region and also lobbied with developed nations.

It’s an open secret that numerous trade and military sanctions were introduced to impose on Pakistan in that decade. The US did indeed impose a few on Pakistan. But the government of Pakistan took a hard decision of not giving in to international pressure and triggered the button of the nuclear weapons test to keep intact the sovereignty and security of Pakistan. Local and foreign observers acknowledge that without being a nuclear power, the country might have suffered a serious setback when its eastern neighbour amassed troops on the border in a threatening posture in 2002.

The history of nuclear weapons in the region can be traced backed to 1974 when New Delhi showed its intent to become a nuclear power. During the same time period, it exploded an atomic device, a weapon of mass destruction and named it “Smiling Buddha”. After that incident, the then prominent leader of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, commissioned a team of experts to begin preparations to respond on the basis of “even if the nation has to eat grass” to achieve it. Fortunately, succeeding rulers also understood the need and didn’t prove to be an obstacle in the way of achieving the target of becoming nuclear power.

Pakistan is surrounded by two nuclear neighbours and that’s the basic reason that motivated Pakistan for nuclear tests, and that was the best timely decision by the nation. As there was a need to maintain balance of power and necessary deterrence in the region keeping in mind the ever untrustworthy relations between India and Pakistan.

After the bold decision of conducting a nuclear weapons test, Pakistan faced isolation at an international stage. The facts were not highlighted by the international media particularly in the context of ever-existing threat to Pakistan from its conventional rival India.

New Delhi’s shrewd policies, particularly of acting as a hostile upper riparian and its adamant stand on Kashmir, cannot by any stretch of imagination be termed friendly. The achievement of status of nuclear power has unified the people of Pakistan.

Finally this is a day of pride and revival, and celebration of this day refers to acknowledgement of all the scientists’ efforts for making Pakistan security unconquered and unchallenged.

The day of May 28th, 1998 was a remarkable day not only alone for Pakistan but also for the whole region as after that threat of unbalanced power in the region lost its existence. May Pakistan being nuclear power would be able to play its due role in maintaining peace in the world. Long Live Pakistan!

Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf works for the Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad and be reached at [email protected]. Ms. Beenish Altaf holds masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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