Pakistani Army soldiers standing on a ballistic missile TEL supplied by China

It is also widely acknowledged by proliferation experts across the globe that China provided nuclear materials and technical know-to Pakistan to develop its purported atomic weapons

Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, inside a deeply dug tunnel in the remote Chaghi mountain, as a tit-for-tat response to India’s nuclear tests at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range

Commemorating the 26th anniversary of Pakistan’s first successful nuclear tests, its top leadership on Tuesday said the historic move in 1998 has ensured a “credible minimum deterrence” to safeguard the country’s territorial integrity.

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 were 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.” 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.

The Foreign Office in a post on X paid rich tributes to Pakistan’s scientists, engineers and technicians for their contributions to the country’s nuclear programme “which has also played an important role in the socioeconomic development” of the nation. “Pakistan’s nuclear programme enjoys the unanimous support of all sections of Pakistani society including political parties, the armed forces, the scientific community, academia and the public at large. Pakistan is committed to global and regional peace and stability and reaffirms its resolve to safeguard Pakistan’s territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty,” it said.

Though both Prime Minister Sharif and the Foreign Office avoided mentioning or acknowledging the contribution of the father of Pakistan’s atomic weapons programme in the nuclear project, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar paid tribute to the “architect of the nuclear program, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, his team and all the scientists”. 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. National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq highlighted that the nuclear tests were a “clear message to the world that the country’s defence was impregnable” and ensured the balance of power in the region.

“The successful nuclear tests highlighted the capabilities of Pakistan to face challenges with grit,” he said in a statement. Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz Sharif who was the premier at the time, stressed that Youm-i-Takbeer was “a day of pride not just for Pakistan but also for the Islamic world”. “We made Pakistan a nuclear power for strong defence; now making it economically invincible is our mission,” she said in a statement shared by her party. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari congratulated all Pakistanis, remembering the legacy of Bhutto, “who envisioned making Pakistan a nuclear power”. In a statement, calling the scientists and others involved in the nuclear tests the country’s “heroes”, he said that his mother Benazir “steadfastly carried forward the vision” of his grandfather with “key services, including the provision of modern missile technology”.

(With Agency Inputs)