There has, perhaps, not been another critical moment of time in Pakistans nuclear history as tellingly convincing as the current situation to have established the deterrent value of the atomic weapon. Had the country succumbed to the US pressure and refrained from conducting nuclear tests to prove that it was capable of defending its homeland against a nuclear neighbour, the enemies of Pakistan would not have spared it now. The yelling and growling American officials, deeply concerned at a Muslim country in possession of the atomic bomb, would not have stopped at simply accusing it of not carrying out their wishes to launch a military operation against its own people. They would have at least told the ever hostile India to take on Pakistan with its superior conventional weaponry. Pakistan, led by Mian Nawaz Sharif at the time India carried out its nuclear explosions, dithered under pressure for a while, but then with commendable foresight decided to go ahead to prove its nuclear capability. Twenty-eighth of May 1998 was, indeed, a joyous occasion for the people of Pakistan when it became the seventh nuclear power in the world. The significance and inherent value of possessing a nuclear device must now be understood by those who have not been in favour of our responding to India in equal measure. In fact, nuclear weapon had proved its worth of deterrence earlier as well when India mobilised and amassed on our borders different arms of its defence forces in a huge number and in battle-ready condition and kept them for 10 long months, but eventually tamely withdrew them. Islamabad had refused to commit that it would not use the nuclear option; rather, it kept a vague stance by maintaining that all options were open in the defence of the country depending upon the situation. The credit for launching the nuclear programme goes to the bold and popular leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Pakistan braved sanctions and censures, but did not swerve from the path and became a proud possessor of nuclear deterrence. What was needed was for the leaders to match this strength with enviable economic growth and all-round prosperity and make the countrys sovereignty impregnable. Unfortunately, they slipped up badly, fell into wrong and corrupt ways, went around the world with a begging bowl and lost dignity and honour. The need of the hour is to quickly set about putting our house in order, aiming solely for the good of Pakistan and its people. There is no reason we will not succeed in regaining whatever we have lost and building upon that firm ground a superstructure of a self-respecting and dignified nation whose word is taken seriously both by international and regional powers. The world must feel assured that Pakistan became a nuclear power 13 years ago; with time and experience it has been able to provide foolproof security to its deadly arsenal. Fears on that count are simply illusionary.