Pakistan Celebrate First Nuclear Tests

ARABIAN DEFENSE -- The Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) recently organized in Jeddah a symposium titled “Nuclear technology: Our need and obligation” to mark the 18th anniversary of Pakistan’s detonation of a nuclear bomb. Pakistan carried out the nuclear tests in May, 1998, defying the intense pressure of Western powers to prevent it. The reaction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to this pressure was that the acquisition of nuclear technology was a matter of life and death as far as Pakistan and its national security were concerned. With these tests, Pakistan became a member of the club of nuclear powers. It was the first Muslim nation to possess nuclear weapons.

It was the late president Mohammed Ayub Khan who took the initiative for Pakistan’s nuclear program in the 1960s when he established a nuclear reactor and power plant with the help of Canada in Karachi in 1963. This reactor started operation in the early 1970s. When India conducted its first nuclear tests in 1974, the then Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared that Pakistan would build a nuclear bomb. “If India built the bomb, we will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own,” he said.

Bhutto courageously initiated Pakistan’s strategic defense institute by bringing home renowned nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. He is also known as the father of the Islamic nuclear bomb in that Pakistan is the only Islamic nation possessing nuclear weapons.

Several prominent figures of the Pakistani community in Jeddah addressed the symposium. All of them expressed their immense pride in Pakistan’s great achievements in the field of nuclear technology. They urged the Pakistani government to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, such as the generation of electricity and to support medical and agricultural products to benefit not only the people of Pakistan but of the entire Muslim world.

The speakers also drew attention to the misery of the stranded Pakistanis who have been languishing in squalid camps in Bangladesh for 45 years. They pointed out that Bangladeshis treat these hapless people in a humiliating manner because they stood by the Pakistan army in safeguarding the unity of the nation during the civil war. The speakers voiced concern over the attitude of successive Pakistani governments in ignoring the cause of the stranded Pakistanis and abandoning them to a doomed fate.

When my turn to speak at the symposium came, I first congratulated the PRC and its officials for organizing the event to mark the anniversary of Youm-e-Takbeer (The Day of Greatness) which, of course, deserves to be celebrated. I expressed my hope that Pakistan would always remain a strong and powerful nation. I also said that I hoped that Pakistan would never use its nuclear weapon and that it would always remain a deterrent to maintain the balance of power in the subcontinent. I emphasized the fact that the nuclear explosion of 1998 was an important achievement for the defense of Pakistan as a strong Pakistan is needed for the Ummah. I said: “If Japan had its own nuclear weapon, then the US would not have dared to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

I also expressed happiness over the initiative of the Pakistani government to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, such as the production of electricity and for medical and agricultural purposes, in addition to other objectives that are instrumental in serving humanity and spurring its progress.

I said: “The great nuclear state should not have forgotten its quarter of a million patriotic citizens languishing in Bangladesh for over four decades. I was very happy when Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for the third time, but, unfortunately, he has not taken any steps for the promised repatriation of those Pakistanis. I pray and hope that Sharif has successful heart surgery in Britain and returns to fulfill his commitment to repatriate and rehabilitate the stranded Pakistanis, a process which he started during his previous tenures.”

In the concluding speech, Syed Ehsanul Haque, convener of the PRC, thanked all the speakers, guests and attendees of the symposium. He appealed to Sharif to establish a nuclear research university, headed by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, to explore the use of electricity production and to enhance the use of nuclear energy for agriculture and medical purposes so as to benefit not only Pakistanis but also to earn precious foreign exchange.

Haque also urged Sharif to reactivate the Rabita Trust, which was founded to start the process of the repatriation and rehabilitation of the stranded Pakistanis. He said: “To overcome the paucity of funds, we sought the implementation of the PRC proposal of the ‘settlement of stranded Pakistanis on a self financing basis.’ The Pakistani High Commissioner at Dhaka should be assigned to take care of the food, health, life and security of a quarter of a million Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh”. He called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to include at the top of its agenda the issue of the settlement of the stranded Pakistanis.

Haque said the Pakistani government should use organizations, such as the
United Nations and the OIC, and superpowers like the US to mount pressure on India to implement the UN resolution on holding a plebiscite in Kashmir so as to enable the people of Kashmir to enjoy the self-determination of their future.

Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi is a former Saudi diplomat who specializes in Southeast Asian affairs. He can be reached at

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