ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has declared a public holiday on Tuesday (today) to mark the 26th anniversary of nuclear tests.

The announcement was made in a notification issued by the cabinet secretariat.

May 28 is observed as Youm-i-Takbeer to mark the day when Pakistan became an atomic power in 1998 after conducting six nuclear tests in Chagai, Balochistan, as a tit-for-tat response to the Indian nuclear tests.

“Youm-i-Takbeer reminds how the entire Pakistani nation got united on that day to make the country’s defence invincible,” the prime minister was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the PM House.

PM says May 28 marks the day when country’s defence became impregnable; pays tribute to soldier martyred in operations

On the day in 1998, he said, the nation decided that there would be no compromise on the country’s integrity and defence by not yielding to any external pressure.

The whole nation vowed not to compromise on the country’s defence and resist “any kind of external pressure”.

Youm-i-Takbeer, he said, was a testament to the unity of political and security forces “to make defence of the country unassailable”.

PM Shehbaz said on this day, the nation should renew the pledge to thwart nefarious designs of external as well as internal foes who are “hell-bent on endangering the country through politics of chaos and anarchy”.

The prime minister also urged the nation to foil nefarious designs of those who intend to create unrest through incidents like May 9, a clear jibe at PTI and the violence which broke out following the arrest of Imran Khan in 2023.

He added that May 28 was a day to “pay tribute” to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the army for making the country’s defence impregnable.

Mr Sharif also paid tribute to former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and nuclear scientists for their role in initiating and continuing the atomic programme.

However, the statement didn’t mention the name of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, a nuclear scientist who had played a major role in the programme and died in Oct 2021 at the age of 85 after being in protective custody for almost two decades.

The PM said the nation should resolve to work tirelessly to ensure economic security with the same spirit it made the defence invincible on May 28, 1998.

Tribute to martyrs

The PM also paid tribute to the officers and soldiers who carried out successful operations against terrorists in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Bagh area of Khyber district.

PM Shehabz hailed the sacrifice of five soldiers, Naek Muhammad Ashfaq Butt, Lance Naek Syed Danish Afkar, Sepoy Taimoor Malik, Sepoy Nadir Sagheer and Sepoy Muhammad Yaseen, who embraced martyrdom during the operation in Bagh on Monday.

He said the soldiers put their lives at risk and fought against the terrorists.

“May Allah Almighty elevate the ranks of the martyrs in paradise and grant courage to the bereaved family members to bear this loss with patience,” he said in a message issued by the PM House.

PM Shehbaz said the entire nation, including himself, was paying tribute to the martyrs’ families. He emphasised the officers and soldiers of armed forces always preferred the country’s integrity and solidarity over their lives.

“We will [fight] this war till the complete elimination of the menace of terrorism,” he resolved, adding the entire nation stood shoulder to shoulder with armed forces.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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