The dawn of 28 May 1998, when Pakistan professed its nuclear credentials as a seventh nuclear power of the world by conducting seven nuclear explosion in response to five by India exactly 17 days ago, not only made Pakistan a member of the prestigious nuclear club of the world but it also eliminated the threats to its territorial security for all times to come. It was undoubtedly a title to greatness in view of the status that it conferred on Pakistan. Since then, the day is rightly celebrated as “Yaum-e-Takbir” each year which means ‘The Day of Greatness’ or ‘The Day of God’s greatness’ It is an article of faith with the Muslims that nothing happens without the will of God and as such all big achievements are acknowledged and attributed to God’s blessings and greatness.

It was indeed a very difficult decision in view of the pressure that was being exerted on Pakistan not to follow the Indian course. It involved coaxing, threats of sanctions and lures for enormous assistance. But as they say a leader’s worth and leadership qualities are tested in times of adversity and difficult situations, Nawaz Sharif who was the Prime Minister of Pakistan at that time exhibited leadership and wrote his name in the history books by spurning the threats and lures. That was the day Pakistan became invincible.

India has been a potent threat to the territorial integrity and security of Pakistan ever since partitions and the consequent Kashmir dispute. India actually never reconciled to the idea of partition and has always been on the look out to harm Pakistan. Both the countries were involved in three conventional wars over Kashmir. But when India exploded its first nuclear device in 1974 it really raised alarm bells in Pakistan. Security and territorial integrity naturally became the top priority and Pakistan perforce had to give a matching response to India. Had Pakistan not adopted this course India surely would have put our security at peril and established its hegemony. By going nuclear and creating a nuclear deterrent against India Pakistan actually created a balance of power, enhancing the prospects of peace. So while attaining the nuclear status by India had an aggressive motive, Pakistan’s response was defensive in nature.

Pakistan has always maintained this position at the international level that the ‘minimum nuclear deterrent’ against India was essential to safeguard its security and promoting peace in the region. However Pakistan has been a staunch supporter of nuclear non-proliferation in spite of not being a signatory to the NPT. It has resisted the pressure to sign the NPT justifiably insisting that it would sign the treaty if India also signed it simultaneously because any unilateral action on part of Pakistan could jeopardise its security. It has also acted in a very responsible manner and adopted all measures required to qualify for becoming a member of the NSG. India has always adopted a hostile posture towards Pakistan. Its ‘cold start’ doctrine is Pakistan specific. Pakistan, again, was forced to develop a defensive mechanism in the shape of short-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to deter India from an adventurous course.

But unfortunately US and its western allies continue to maintain their pressure on Pakistan to cap its nuclear programme while helping India to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal. They have signed agreements with India for transfer of civil nuclear technology and are also pushing for India’s membership of the NSG in violation of the NPT, while they are not prepared to extend the same treatment to Pakistan. By any standards Pakistan is a deserving candidate for the membership of NSG and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly made a credible case in this regard at the UN and other international forums. Pakistan supported by China and other countries is resisting admission of India in the NSG maintaining that there should be a criteria based approach in regards to admitting non-NPT states to the NSG.

Pakistan’s fears and reservations about NSG waiver for India have been corroborated by the international nuclear monitoring agencies saying that after this waiver India has expanded its programme of nuclear arsenal. US senator Markey in a senate hearing is reported to have said, “Since 2008 when we also gave them exemption India has continued to produce fissile materials for its nuclear programme virtually unchecked. At that time Pakistan warned us that the deal would increase the chances of the nuclear arms race in South Asia.”

In view of the foregoing realities, Pakistan is fully justified in challenging the discriminatory treatment meted out to her on the nuclear issue. It has also adopted a principled stand on FMCT maintaining that the question of removing the existing asymmetry between India and Pakistan needs to be addressed first before the commencement of the dialogue on the issue.

But what is encouraging to note is that Pakistan government led by Nawaz Sharif, the man who made Pakistan’s defence invicible by conducting the nuclear tests, is not wilting under the international pressure on the issue like it did not when the nuclear tests were conducted. It is alive to the developments occurring in our region and is leaving no stone unturned to strengthen security of the county.

Simultaneously it is also working with an unruffled commitment, notwithstanding the obstacle being erected by the political opponents of the government, to change the economic profile of the country. The economy has been revived and the current GDP growth rate stands at 5.1% as compared to 3% in 2013. This achievement has been repeatedly acknowledged by the international lending and rating agencies. The world bank in its latest assessment given on last Saturday has indicated a growth rate of 5.2 % during 2017 with the prospect of further enhancement in growth rate during 2018 and 2019. The CPEC is yet another mega-economic initiative that has the potential to change economic profile of the country and the entire region. Economists believe that the completion of projects under CPEC would add 2% to the GDP growth rate. The strategy and the theme being pursued by the Nawaz government in this regard seems to be ‘Peace through invincible defence and invincible economy.’ No person in his right mind can take exception to this approach. There is much to rejoice while celebrating Yaum-e-Takbir this year.