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Reflections on Yaum-e-Takbeer: Pakistan’s Nuclear Milestone

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Ahmed Abdullah

Pakistan marks the 26th anniversary of Yaum-e-Takbeer on May 28, 2024, a day that signifies the nation’s entry into the league of nuclear-armed states. This strategic move was a direct response to India’s nuclear tests, serving as a counterbalance to the regional power dynamics and reinforcing Pakistan’s defence capabilities. The nuclear tests were a pivotal moment, ensuring the restoration of strategic equilibrium in South Asia.

Since its inception, Pakistan has faced a disparity in conventional military strength compared to India. The partition of Pakistan in 1971 and India’s initial nuclear tests in 1974 intensified Pakistan’s security concerns, prompting a steadfast commitment to developing its nuclear deterrent. Ambassador Zamir Akram, in his 2023 book “The Security Imperative: Pakistan’s Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy,” highlights the Indian leadership’s aggressive stance before and after their first nuclear tests.

Echoing this sentiment, Brigadier (Retd) Feroz Hassan Khan’s 2012 book “Eating Grass” cites the resolute declaration of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who famously stated the nation’s determination to acquire nuclear capability, even at great sacrifice. Declassified CIA documents later revealed plans by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to potentially target Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, further validating Pakistan’s threat perception.

The situation escalated when India conducted further nuclear tests at Pokhran on May 11, 1998, accompanied by provocative rhetoric towards Pakistan. This led Pakistan to conduct its own tests at Chaghi, known as Chaghi-I, showcasing its nuclear prowess and reaffirming its commitment to maintaining regional stability.

Despite Pakistan’s stance on maintaining a credible minimum nuclear deterrence, India’s military strategies evolved, with doctrines such as the Cold Start Doctrine and later the Pro-active Operational Strategy, aimed at pressuring Pakistan on multiple fronts.

In a strategic countermove, Pakistan developed the New Concept of War Fighting in the conventional realm and pursued the development of Tactical Nuclear Weapons, culminating in a Full Spectrum Deterrence policy. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, the then Foreign Secretary, underscored Pakistan’s readiness to counter any Indian aggression during a 2015 press conference in Washington DC, emphasizing the country’s tactical nuclear capabilities.

The Pulwama attack, which India attributed to a terrorist act, resulted in the death of 40 CRPF personnel and led to a subsequent Indian airstrike attempt inside Pakistan. Pakistan’s response, termed Quid Pro Quo Plus, demonstrated its resolve and capability to defend its sovereignty and maintain regional security.

As Pakistan commemorates Yaum-e-Takbeer, it reflects on its journey towards nuclear deterrence, a path chosen to safeguard national interests and promote peace and stability in a historically volatile region.

On May 28, Pakistan celebrates Youm-e-Takbeer, a day that holds profound significance in the nation’s history. It marks the anniversary of Pakistan’s successful detonation of nuclear devices in 1998, making it the seventh country in the world and the first in the Muslim world to demonstrate its nuclear capabilities.

The term “Youm-e-Takbeer” translates to “The Day of Greatness,” reflecting the monumental achievement and the overwhelming sense of pride among Pakistanis. This day is not just a celebration of scientific and technological prowess; it is a symbol of the country’s resolve to defend its sovereignty and maintain national security.

The historical context of Youm-e-Takbeer is rooted in the geopolitical tensions in South Asia. In response to India’s nuclear tests, Pakistan conducted its own tests at Chagai Hills, codenamed Chagai-I and Chagai-II. These tests were a direct assertion of Pakistan’s strategic capabilities and a message of deterrence, ensuring a balance of power in the region.

The celebrations on Youm-e-Takbeer are diverse and patriotic. They include flag-hoisting ceremonies, military parades, and exhibitions showcasing the country’s advancements in nuclear technology. Awards and medals are conferred upon scientists and engineers who contributed to the nuclear program, honoring their dedication and hard work.

Moreover, Youm-e-Takbeer serves as a reminder of the challenges Pakistan has faced and the resilience it has shown in overcoming them. It is a day that unites the nation in remembrance of a collective achievement that has shaped its destiny.

In essence, Youm-e-Takbeer is a testament to Pakistan’s commitment to peace through strength. It is a day that resonates with the spirit of national unity and the unwavering determination to safeguard the country’s future. As Pakistan continues to navigate the complex international landscape, Youm-e-Takbeer remains a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for generations to come.

As we approach May 28, let us reflect on the significance of Youm-e-Takbeer and its role in defining Pakistan’s journey as a resilient and sovereign nation. It is a day to celebrate the triumph of human endeavour and the enduring spirit of a nation committed to peace and prosperity.

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