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Pakistan news: Pakistan’s PM Shehbaz Sharif says 1998 nuclear tests ensured ‘credible minimum deterrence’

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Commemorating the 26th anniversary of Pakistan’s first successful nuclear tests, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said it encapsulates the arduous yet remarkable path of the country towards establishing a “credible minimum deterrence.” Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, inside a deeply dug tunnel in the remote Chaghi mountain of Balochistan province, as a tit-for-tat response to India’s nuclear tests in the same month at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range.

Pakistan’s nuclear tests, state-run Radio Pakistan, said was conducted in response to the regional security dynamics and one that ensured that Pakistan’s defence capabilities were robust and credible.

Pakistan became the seventh nuclear nation in the world and the first Muslim state in 1998 having the nuclear arsenal in its defence stockpile to exercise deterrence.

Designated as Youm-e-Takbeer, translated as ‘the day of greatness’ or ‘the day of God’s greatness’, and observed annually with national zeal and fervour, Sharif has declared Tuesday as a public holiday, for the first time in the recent past.

Congratulating the nation in his message on social media platform X, Sharif said the day symbolises the collective effort of all facets of national power.

“May 28 signifies more than just a mere commemoration of a day; it encapsulates the narrative of our nation’s arduous yet remarkable path towards establishing a credible minimum deterrence,” he said, adding, “On this historic day, in 1998, PM Nawaz Sharif demonstrated bold leadership by rejecting nerve-wracking pressures and inducements to make Pakistan a nuclear-armed nation.” Sharif also paid tribute to Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear programme for his “strategic foresight and unwavering commitment to the cause.” However, Sharif’s statement did not mention the name of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, a nuclear scientist who played a major role in the programme after being in protective custody for almost two decades.

Sharif said the nation should resolve to work tirelessly to ensure economic security with the same spirit it made the defence invincible on May 28, 1998.

In his message, acting President Yusuf Raza Gilani reiterated the resolve to continue working towards a peaceful and stable world. “We successfully demonstrated our nuclear capabilities and joined the ranks of nuclear powers,” he said and added that Youm-e-Takbeer serves as a testament to our nation’s resilience, unwavering determination, and commitment to maintaining regional peace and stability.

The Pakistan Army, in a statement, said that the Armed Forces pay tribute to the unwavering dedication and selfless sacrifices of all those who contributed to this remarkable feat, achieved against overwhelming odds.

The Armed Forces reaffirm their unwavering resolve to defend the motherland, protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and ensure the nation’s security at all times and at any cost, the statement added.

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