Pakistan celebrates 19th anniversary of “Chaghi Nuclear Test” – The day when Pakistan became Nuclear Power

By Agha Iqrar Haroon

Pakistani Nation is celebrating 18th Youm-i-Takbeer – the anniversary of the day when Pakistan successfully tested its nuclear weapon and became 7th power of the world having the capability to turn its enemies into ashes.

May 28, 2017 is the 19th anniversary of “Chaghi Nuclear Test” – the day when Pakistan responded to second nuclear test conducted by its archrival India on May 11, 1998.

Indian Pokhran-II nuclear test was blessing in disguise for Pakistan which had nuclear capabilities but was shy to test due to expected strong reaction from western countries.

First nuclear test of India (code name–Smiling Buddha and official name Pokhran-I) was conducted on May 18, 1974. Right after the test, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto addressed the Parliament and stated that Pakistan would not bow down to hegemony, India wanted to install in the region. Bhutto reportedly utilized all possible resources to get nuclear capabilities and kept working on the project till the time his government was removed by an Army dictator in 1977. His removal was followed by his judicial murder that took place in 1979. He is known as Father of Pakistan Nuclear Programme.

He directed Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for ingenious development of the nuclear fuel cycle infrastructure. A number of retired scientists claim that Pakistan by the year 1977 went through weapon designs stages under the leadership of Bhutto.

From 1977 onward, Nuclear Program of Pakistan never stopped and the then Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif in 1998 went for testing of nuclear weapon by setting aside diplomatic pressures he faced from western countries, particularly from the United States.

Sanctions were imposed on Pakistan right after the nuclear test and Pakistan had to announce economic emergency in the country to deal with exceptionally harsh and ruthless sanctions. On October 1999, the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif was removed by another military dictator and he was jailed. The history of nuclear programme in Pakistan is quite interesting. The prime minister who started nuclear programme was removed by the military dictator and killed thereafter while the prime minister who conducted the nuclear test was also removed by the military dictator but survived his possible execution.

The nuclearization in South Asia was started by India and its second nuclear test left no option for Pakistan but to give a befitting response by conducting a series of seven consecutive blasts in the Chaghi mountain of Balochistan province on May 28, 1997.

I remember the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held an informal chat with beat reporters at his Lahore Model residence when he came to Lahore after India conducted Pokhran II. I remember he was very firm to respond to Indian aggression. Beat reporters asked him what would be the response of Pakistan to Indian nuclear test? He smiled and said:

 “I shall not let Pakistan down although I am facing serve pressure from many quarters who are suggesting that I should not reciprocate Indian test. I believe in Allah (God) and will stand for my country and for my nation against all odds”.

The then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went for testing nuclear weapon on May 28, 1998 and wrote a chapter of defence history of Pakistan.

There had been a debate in Pakistan that there was no need to become a nuclear power and Pakistan could utilize the money it spent on nuclear programme for uplifting of social structure of the country. This debate was and is mostly led by pseudo-intellectuals.

I could accept their viewpoint that there would have been no need to become a nuclear power if I didn’t see what happened to those nations which withdrew their nuclear power. The prime example is Ukraine in Eastern Europe.

Ukraine had one of the largest dump of nuclear weapons when it took independence from the former Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held about one third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. This stock was considered as the third largest in the world at that time. It had 130 UR-100N intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with six warheads each, 46 RT-23 Molodets ICBMs with 10 warheads apiece, as well as 33 heavy bombers; totaling approximately 1,700 warheads.

In 1994 Ukraine agreed to destroy the weapons under the Lisbon Protocol.

Lisbon Protocol was an agreement by representatives of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan that all nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union on the soil of Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan would be destroyed or transferred to the control of Russia. All four states agreed to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons with Russia – the successor to the Soviet Union – as a nuclear state, and the other three states joining as non-nuclear states. The protocol was signed in Lisbon, Portugal on May 23, 1992.

Lisbon Protocol was followed by “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” that took place in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994, providing security assurances to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Through this memorandum, Russia, the United States and United Kingdom provided security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. As a result of Memorandum on Security Assurances, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons between 1994 and 1996.

What occurred thereafter?

One signatory of “Memorandum on Security Assurances” launched blatant aggression against Ukraine in year 2014 in the form of annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation that also allegedly sponsored war in Eastern Ukraine. Thousands of Ukrainians lost their lives and Ukrainian economy melted down like a wax thereafter.

Where are two more signatories – United Kingdom and the United States?

Do they come to protect Ukraine against war launched by Russia? Answer is NO.

The only protection that Ukraine had against her strong neighbour was its nuclear arsenal and ballistic missiles but it (Ukraine) trusted the US, Russia and UK and withdrew its only protection under “Memorandum on Security Assurances”.

Lessons learned:

Never trust anybody in matters related with protection of your nation and your motherland.

Be powerful enough to protect yourself instead of waiting someone to come and help you. Remember the US fleet never reached Bay of Bengal and Pakistan lost former East Pakistan in an Indian sponsored war for making Bangladesh in 1971.

Ukraine and Pakistan have some similarities as both countries lost their Eastern land due to aggression came from their neighbours. India now accepts officially that its soldiers and Army fought along with Bangla Liberation Army (Known as Mukti Bahini) against Pakistan Army in former East Pakistan in 1971. While world has seen that Russian soldiers fought along with so-called separatists in East Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, together commonly called the “Donbass”.

Pakistan had no nuclear weapons in 1971 while Ukraine had already withdrawn its nuclear pile by 2014 and both faced physical disintegration of their countries.

I believe that it is the nuclear capability that prevents India to attack Pakistan; otherwise, it (India) wishes to slice Pakistan into more pieces as it did in 1971.

One of the greatest soldiers of all times to come, Amir (King) Taimur also known as Tamerlane once said:

“Never use horse of someone in battle and never give your sword and horse to someone when you are preparing to leave for battle ground”.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.