LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz main leadership that gathered in the city on Thursday to observe the 22nd anniversary of the successful nuclear tests conducted by the country under the premiership of its supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has blamed Prime Minister Imran Khan for economically crippling the nuclear state.

PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Pervaiz Rrashid, Saad Rafiq, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, retired Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, retired Gen Abdul Qayyum, Maryam Aurangzeb and Rana Sanaullah addressed the ‘Youm-i-Takbeer’ event in Model Town, while Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif spoke through a video link.

On the occasion, tributes were paid to former premier Nawaz Sharif for conducting the nuclear tests in 1998 despite international pressure.

Shahbaz Sharif said after India conducted nuclear tests (in 1998) Nawaz Sharif asked the army leadership to make preparations to give a response to Delhi in the same manner.

“Pakistan would not have been invincible, had we not gone for nuclear tests. Nawaz Sharif neither accepted a huge economic package [offered by US for foregoing nuclear tests], nor bowed to international pressure,” he said, acknowledging that PPP late chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had started the country’s nuclear programme.

Shahbaz said May 28 would always be remembered as a day when Pakistan’s defence was made invincible.

“We will have to find out reasons as why India is committing atrocities in held Kashmir,” he said.

Chiding Prime Minister Imran Khan for “ruining the country’s economy” the PML-N president said he (Imran) neither united the nation against Covid-19, nor did anything to improve the economy.

“We all have to work to improve the economy. The economy and defence are inter linked as if the former weakens the latter follows it,” he added.

Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on a lighter note that if a commission was formed on nuclear tests today it would report that Imran Khan, Usman Buzdar and Zartaj Gull had a role in making the country a nuclear state.

Comparing Nawaz Sharif and retired Gen Pervaiz Musharraf, he said the ousted premier, despite international threats and lucrative economic package offer, conducted the nuclear tests, while the former military dictator buckled under the orders of an American minister (after 9/11 and agreed to join the so-called war on terror) “and today we were facing its consequences”.

Ahsan Iqbal said the PML-N leadership would not be intimidated by the “false cases” instituted by the National Accountability Bureau. He said Imran Khan and his cronies had been imposed on the country after stealing the people’s mandate to achieve a certain goal – rolling back the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and destroying the country’s economy. “This goal has been achieved,” he said.

On the occasion, Maryam Aurangzeb presented four resolutions, demanding a fair investigation into the PIA plane crash in Karachi, asking the government to take urgent measures to control the locusts attack on crops, demanded NAB to open cases against big guns in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government and condemning detention of Hamza Shahbaz for about a year without a case.

CHOHAN: Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan has termed the Sharif family’s taking credit for the May 28, 1998, nuclear tests a figment of their own imagination.

“Had Pakistan’s atomic bomb been made at Ittefaq Foundry, the nation would have given the credit to Sharif family,” he said.

In 1980s, Mr Chohan said, the whole nation was nurturing the atomic programme by paying a heavy price on socio-economic front, while the Sharif family was paying just Rs200 to Rs500 in taxes.

The minister alleged that Nawaz Sharif as prime minister had been persuading the civil and military establishments against the nuclear blasts and for financial transactions with the world powers. This, he said, had been stated by the then foreign minister Gohar Ayub, and creator of atomic programme Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan in their writings and interviews.

“The credit for making Pakistan a nuclear power goes to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, General Zia-ul-Haq, Ishaq Khan and Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and the entire Pakistani nation salutes these personalities for their efforts to make the country a nuclear power,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2020