As atrocities against the people of Palestine continue in full view of the international community, we are once again reminded that at the end of the day, it falls on a nation to protect its people from external aggression – no one else will come to their aid.

With every passing day, the people of Pakistan should be increasingly grateful to the men and women who strived and sacrificed to make Pakistan a nuclear-armed state and should celebrate Youm-i-Takbeer - the day when Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in the hills of Chagai, Balochistan in 1998. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is correct in saying that “Youm-i-Takbeer reminds us how the entire Pakistani nation got united on that day to make the country’s defence invincible.” As a nuclear-armed state, Pakistan can face off against power orders of magnitude larger than itself, with the assurance that the territorial integrity of the nation can never be threatened again. With a belligerent India on our east and global superpowers intervening near our western borders, this nuclear deterrence became indispensable in preserving our sovereignty. We can only imagine what the scenario would have been otherwise.

Pakistan must not rest on its laurels; global technology continues to evolve, and we must evolve with it. Skirmishes with India near Kashmir, and with the Tehreek-e-Taliban near Afghanistan prove the importance of maintaining a modern conventional force. Nuclear deterrence is a last resort to protect territorial integrity, Pakistan needs to be militarily capable in the realms before that threshold. Even in the nuclear sphere, we must continue to evolve. Global superpowers have assured a “second strike” capability and are working on modernizing the “nuclear tired” – the ability to utilize nuclear warheads from land, air, and sea. New advances in anti-ballistic missile air defence have forced yet another evolution and much more evolution can be foreseen.

Youm-i-Takbeer reminds us of the sacrifices needed to ensure sovereignty – we must never let it slip.

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