Twelve Years before, MAY 28, 1998 was a landmark day in Pakistan’s history. It was a day that qualitatively altered Pakistan’s perception of itself and its place in the comity of nations. From an underdeveloped, psychologically dependent state compelled to look westward, it became the first Muslim state to acquire nuclear weapons capability – which it tested overtly to inform the rest of the world that it would not allow India this strategic advantage. After all, let us not forget that the only time nuclear weapons were used – by the US against an already-defeated Japan – was when the enemy did not possess them.
This acquisition was all the more precious because it came as a result of totally indigenous efforts and long hard years of pursuing this scientific goal against all odds. The Western world, especially the US, along with the Zionist entity of Israel, did all they could to derail our programme – with threats, sanctions and lures – but the nation and its leadership was determined, and our scientists were right there proving they were as good as the best anywhere in the world.
While the nuclear capability came about as a result of a national team effort, if anyone was the “father” of our atomic weapon, it was the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and he literally gave his life for it. He brought about a new nationalist thinking and worldview that was missing from our ruling elite’s mindset and it disappeared again with his death. Amongst the scientists one should not forget the role of Dr Munir Ahmed and Dr A.Q. Khan along with the dedicated PAEC and Kahuta specialists and infrastructure that built the resource base for the eventual nuclear tests. Dr Khan of course has aroused the wrath of the US and its Western allies because he defied them and acquired uranium enrichment technology that continues to give us the edge in our atomic weapons programme. More than anything else it is the trauma of this defiance that marks the American demand for punitive action against him! Pakistan would also do well to remember that we also had the support of steadfast allies like China and some of our close Arab allies – and the outpouring of joy across the Arab world when we tested our device was a reaffirmation that regardless of the routine of global politics, there is an underlying thread that connects the Muslim nation (Ummah), even if their rulers are at odds with each other.