ISLAMABAD - The Arms Control and Disarmament Center (ACDC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) held a webinar on “Youm-e-Takbeer: Celebrating Peaceful and Prosperous Nuclear Pakistan” to mark the 23rd anniversary of Youm-e-Takbeer on May 28, 2021. The eminent speakers included Brig. Zahir Kazmi, Director General, ACDA-SPD; Mr Muhammad Kamran Akhtar, Director, ACDIS, MOFA; Dr. Rizwana Abbasi, Associate Professor, NUML; Dr. Pervaiz Butt, former Chairman PAEC; and Air Cdre. (Retd.) Khalid Banuri, Advisor SPD.

Malik Qasim Mustafa, Director ACDC at the ISSI, highlighted that since May 28, 1998, the Pakistani nation, every year, proudly commemorates “Youm-e-Takbeer,” as a day when Pakistan restored the balance of power in the South Asian Region by conducting nuclear tests. After acquiring nuclear weapons capability, Pakistan is ensuring the security of its nation with utmost restraints and responsibility. However, with the passage of time, as the traditional notion of security is changing, Pakistan also realises that to ensure comprehensive human security, it must ensure economic security, energy security, food security and environmental security, for its masses. Pakistan is making use of peaceful nuclear technology in almost all sectors.         

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, in his welcome remarks said that developing nuclear weapons capability was a strategic imperative for Pakistan. He highlighted that in the aftermath of the 1998 Indian nuclear tests, there was tremendous pressure on Pakistan not to follow suit. However, the top Pakistani leadership withstood all pressure and overtly went nuclear.

Brig. Zahir Kazmi made remarks on “Socioeconomic and Security Achievements of Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme.” He said that today deterrence is at work – and it did not break down amid crises in past. The crisis that almost brewed to the brink in February 2019 is still fresh in our memory. He emphasised that today deterrence mechanism is in place against the full spectrum of threats at strategic, operational and tactical levels, which is within the philosophy of Credible Minimum Deterrence. He also highlighted the role of effective command and control which remains in place round the clock and ensures that nuclear weapons will never be used either accidentally or inadvertently. 

Mr Muhammad Kamran Akhtar said that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability aims to ensure strategic stability while, at the same time, avoidance of an arms race. He said that the global arms control regime is supposed to be a guarantor of peace. Thus, it should not be discriminatory. He highlighted that there is a renewed arms race at the regional and global level. On the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, he noted that the PAEC has contributed tremendously to the agriculture, industry, environment and medical sectors. 

Dr. Rizwana Abbasi spoke on “International Cooperation for Peaceful Nuclear Technology: A Case for Pakistan.” She emphasised the role of nuclear energy as cost-effective, clean and sustainable. She said that the continued reliance on fossil fuels will generate irreversible damage. The world is moving away from reliance on fossil fuels. She emphasised the need to create public awareness on the issue. 

Mr. Pervaiz Butt made remarks on “Prosperity through Nuclear Power Generation in Pakistan.” He highlighted that the cost of generation of nuclear power is low. He said that the advantage of nuclear energy over other sources of energy is that nuclear power plants operate continuously while hydroelectricity generation fluctuates according to water levels. 

Air Cdre. (Retd) Khalid Banuri spoke on “Roadmap for Peaceful and Prosperous Nuclear Pakistan.” He highlighted three major areas that Pakistan has focused on peaceful uses of nuclear technology - energy generation, food security, and the health sector. To achieve the goal of zero hunger, four agriculture research institutes using nuclear technology were built that are working tirelessly to augment agricultural production. 

The PAEC continues to provide cancer diagnostics and treatment using its resources and provides free treatment to patients who cannot afford it. Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BoG ISSI, in his concluding remarks, said that Pakistan was a reluctant nuclear weapon power. Over the decades, Pakistan was an ardent advocate of nuclear non-proliferation. 

However, India was not interested in pursuing nuclear non-proliferation. Pakistan tried to keep South Asia weapon free. He also emphasised the need to maintain credible nuclear deterrence in the face of emerging technologies and weapons systems.