Maintaining territorial integrity and developing a security apparatus designed to deter the enemies from committing any indiscretion against the state, is regarded as the top priority by every nation. It ensures and protects the socio-economic development of the country. Unfortunately Pakistan since its independence has had to grapple with the security threat emanating from its eastern neighbour.
The two countries have fought three wars over Kashmir because India reneged on her international commitment to decide the issue through a plebiscite as enshrined in the UNSC resolution followed by declaring it her integral part in 1957, a move which was rejected by the UN through its resolutions 91 and 122 reiterating that the Kashmir dispute could only be resolved through a plebiscite held under the auspices of the UN.
That adequately explained the rationale for Pakistan to go nuclear in exercise of its right to safeguard its security in the face of a grave threat. The Pakistani nation is greatly indebted to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for initiating the nuclear programme, Zia ul Haq for its completion and Nawaz Sharif for showing the heft and courage to announce nuclear credentials of Pakistan brushing aside pressure exerted by the USA and its allies
However India did not budge from its unilaterally assumed stance. All efforts made by Pakistan failed to get a positive response. Instead successive Indian governments continued to show a hostile attitude towards Pakistan and never accepted the reality of partition of the Subcontinent. India also kept piling up arms during these years and even developed a nuclear device which it exploded in 1974.
That development really raised the alarm for Pakistan which rightly felt the pinch of this enhanced threat to her security. The situation forced Pakistan also to go for the nuclear option to safeguard its security. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan wasted no time in initiating Pakistan’s nuclear programme to give a befitting response to the enemy. The development was treated with hostility by Pakistan’s ally, the USA. It brought up the Pressler Amendment to dissuade Pakistan from pursuing the programme. But President Zia who followed Bhutto, showed remarkable determination to take the nuclear effort to its logical end. By the early 1990s Pakistan acquired the nuclear capability but refrained from conducting the nuclear test.
But when India conducted nuclear test on 11 May 1998 and Indian Home Minister L.K.Advani issued a statement warning Pakistan to realize the change in the geostrategic situation in the region and refrain from intensifying the separatist movement in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, Pakistan had no choice but to respond to the Indian challenge to deter her from adopting an aggressive posture towards it. India probably was under the impression that Pakistan did not have the expertise to produce nuclear weapons and it was only posing as if it did to blackmail it. Pakistan actually called the Indian bluff by exploding nuclear devices and created a permanent deterrent against security threat from India.
Consequently the dawn of 28 May 1998 saw Pakistan emerging as the seventh nuclear power of the world when in response to the Indian nuclear explosions on 11th May, it also exploded five nuclear devices, followed by another detonation two days later. Since then May 28 is celebrated as ‘ Yaum-e-Takbeer’ (exaltation of God’s name) in Pakistan and rightly so as it was the second most important day in the history of Pakistan, after Independence Day.
It is pertinent to mention that USA tried a combination of threats and offers of huge financial assistance to stop Pakistan from responding to the Indian indiscretion and aggressive action. But it must be admitted that Nawaz Sharif, who was the Prime Minister of Pakistan at that time, brushed aside the pressure and the lucrative offer for financial assistance from the USA.
As leader of a self-respecting nation which gave top priority to its security and existence, he made the right choice in the supreme national interest and did the nation proud by ensuring nuclear parity with India. The USA again imposed sanctions against Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif in his address to the nation after the nuclear tests said “We never wanted to participate in this race for nuclear weapons. The enemy in its extreme arrogance forgot the rules of communication and is openly threatening us. We have proved to the world that we will not accept what is dictated to us.”
That adequately explained the rationale for Pakistan to go nuclear in exercise of its right to safeguard its security in the face of a grave threat. The Pakistani nation is greatly indebted to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for initiating the nuclear programme, Zia ul Haq for its completion and Nawaz Sharif for showing the heft and courage to announce nuclear credentials of Pakistan brushing aside pressure exerted by the USA and its allies. They indeed deserve unqualified gratitude from the nation for thwarting the nefarious designs of the enemy and bringing nuclear parity between the two countries, which surely has eliminated the chances of a full-fledged war between them and greatly reduced concerns about our security. The government has announced ten-day celebrations in this regard which surely is a justifiable move in view of its significance in regards to making Pakistan’s defense impregnable.
Pakistan rightly believes that nuclear deterrence is a factor of stability in South Asia. However it is pursuing a policy of minimum nuclear deterrent. Weakness invites aggression and the best way to keep the would-be aggressor at bay is to acquire the defence capability which would force it to think many a times before committing any aggression. Pakistan does not harbor aggressive designs against any of its neighbours and has no hegemonic designs in the region. Development of nuclear weapons by Pakistan is purported to ensure territorial integrity, political harmony and peace. Though Pakistan is not a signatory to NPT and other nuclear regimes but it has worked with the global community to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
However, Pakistan cannot afford to show slackness on its security till such time India and its supporters who cry hoarse from every convenient roof top to see South Asia as a stable region, instead of indulging in rhetoric, show sincerity of purpose by adopting concrete measures to promote peace in the region and refrain from discriminatory treatment against Pakistan viz-a-viz India as well as help in the resolution of the Kashmir issue which is the cause of conflict between the two countries.