Syed Hamzah Saleem Gilani

Nuclear programme of Pakistan has been the real game in determining Pakistan’s foreign policy, security stature and international standing. Being a student in United States, before 28th May, 1998 I had to introduce Pakistan as India’s neighbour. India being a large economy was known to everyone. But in post nuclear explosion scenario Pakistan re-emerged on the globe with a global recognition. And since then Pakistan is taken very seriously, in terms of diplomatic and strategic relations, by the major international players.

Nuclear explosions of Pakistan were in reaction to Indian nuclear experiment. President of United States Bill Clinton, in the name of peace, pressurized Pakistan to refrain from this nuclear adventurism. But it was the right decision at the right time, a product of civil military harmony, that Pakistan refused to succumb to US demands and opted to go nuclear.  In the long run this proved to be a correct decision because over the period of time there were many occasions where nuclear capability served as a shield against the nefarious agendas of our eastern neighbour.

When India first tested its nuke in 1974, it had already gone to war with Pakistan three times. However, in 1994 when they tested their medium range Prithvi missile it was taken as a clear indication and warning that their missile and nuclear technology could be used against Pakistan. In June 1997, India started deploying missiles on its western border. It was a period of great tension with troop movement happening on both sides of the border and many believed that war between the countries was imminent.

On 11th may 1998 India tested three of its nukes and on 13th may tested yet another two nukes to show their strategic strength in the region. On March 18th, after the explosions, the Home Minister, L.K. Advani, called on Pakistan to “realize the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region”. He warned Pakistan against trying to intensify a separatist Muslim insurgency in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. The intervening period between when India shocked the world by conducting the tests and when Pakistan made the decision to carry out the tests was strife with anxiety and demoralization. No one really knew how things would turn out.

After much deliberation and in spite of extreme pressure from the West, not to respond in kind, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finally took the decision to test the Pakistani nukes for balancing the power in the region. Amid slogans of “Allahu Akbar”, Pakistan conducted its first test on 28thMay, 1998, by detonating five of its primary nuclear weapons at 1030 GMT at the Ras Koh hills in the Chaghai District of Balochistan. Later on 30th May, 1998, yet another test was carried out in the same area. Shortly after the first test, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a memorable address to the nation and said that the five tests by India had made the action “inevitable”. He said, “The enemy in their extreme arrogance has forgotten the rules of communication and are openly threatening us.

Today’s date is history in the making. God has given us the opportunity to take this step for our country’s defence 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.”

Pakistan does not harbour any aggressive designs against any state. It has no hegemonic aspirations in the region. Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine states that its motive for pursuing a nuclear weapons program is to counter the threat posed by its principal rival India – in addition to countering threats from its western border and the seas. Territorial integrity, political harmony and peace are the ultimate goals behind developing our nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and remains steadfast in its refusal to sign the NPT, stating that it would do so only after India signed the Treaty.

India, unlike Pakistan has always exhibited hegemonic designs in the region and is labelled as “big brother” due to its imperialistic nature, being involved in a number of conflicts with its neighbours that range from water disputes to land and territorial disputes. It has gone to war with China and has invested hugely in Afghanistan despite the poverty in its own country.

This year 28th May of 2016 will be celebrated in a much interesting scenario; Indian hostility is at its peak. Interventions, of spies and arms, from Afghanistan and Iran have added to the challenges of Pakistan. And Pak-US relations are, once again strained and the common thing is economic aid from USA. In 1998 sanctions were imposed on Pakistan and in 2016 Pakistan’s military aid and special aid for F-16 aircrafts have been recently cancelled by the US congress. Therefore on 28th May 2016 Pakistan has to re-emerge once again to make its strategic importance felt across the globe.