ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan today (May 28) celebrates 20 years as a South Asian nuclear state.

May 28 marks the 20th anniversary of the nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan in 1998. 

A foreign ministry statement said: “Pakistan was forced to take that decision as a response, in self-defence to the nuclear tests and accompanying hostile posturing by its neighbour (India).”

It said: “These developments unfortunately put an end to the prospect for keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons - an objective which Pakistan had actively pursued. Notwithstanding these facts, Pakistan has remained steadfast in its commitment to non-proliferation and global peace and strategic stability.”

“Since 1998, Pakistan demonstrated utmost restraint and responsibility in the stewardship of its nuclear capability. It is committed to the principle of credible minimum deterrence and has persistently sought deterrence stability in the region,” the ministry said.

“This objective has driven Pakistan to offer and conclude several confidence building measures in the nuclear and conventional domains, including the 2004 Pakistan-India joint statement which recognized the respective nuclear capabilities of the two countries as a factor for stability,” the statement said.

Pakistan has consistently signaled its willingness to consider further measures for risk reduction and avoidance of arms race in the region, it said.

At the same time, Pakistan remains confident of its ability to deny space for any misadventure against the backdrop of rapidly expanding nuclear and conventional forces in its neighbourhood, deployment of the ballistic missile defence and pursuit of aggressive security doctrines and developing force postures. 

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence from British in 1947. 

Presently, the two neighbours are going through the worst phase in ties that have always been far from friendly.

There have, however, been efforts from peace lovers on both sides of the border to improve the confidence level and revive the dialogue process.

The foreign ministry said the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean and canesterization of ballistic missiles in “our neighbourhood should be a matter of concern for the international community as well, since these developments have extra-regional ramifications.” 

“Cognizant of its responsibility as a state with nuclear capability, Pakistan has over the years developed robust command and control systems led by the National Command Authority, effective nuclear safety and security regimes and export controls which are at par with the contemporary international standards,” the ministry said.

“Pakistan has taken significant measures to ensure comprehensive nuclear security which have been acknowledged internationally,” it said. 

Pakistan, the statement said, was also proud of its accomplishments in harnessing nuclear technology for peace, progress and prosperity. 

“Nuclear technology has been successfully employed for the benefit of the people in areas of medicine, health, agriculture, industry, food preservation, water management and power generation. Being one of the most affected countries due to the impact of climate change, Pakistan plans to increase its nuclear power generation capacity to 40,000MW by 2050, as a clean and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel. Pakistan looks forward to expanding the scope of its international collaboration in nuclear power generation for meeting the legitimate socio-economic development needs of its people,” the statement said. 

It added: “As a country with advanced nuclear technology, Pakistan seeks to play its role as a mainstream partner in the global non-proliferation regime. Pakistan has also expressed its desire to join the multilateral export control regimes and has already applied for participation in the Nuclear Suppliers Group based on non-discriminatory criteria applicable in a fair manner to all non-NPT (Nin-Proliferation Treaty) states.”