As the nation observed Youm-i-Takbeer on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Acting President Yusuf Raza Gilani hailed the nation’s “unwavering determination” to make Pakistan a nuclear power under the “bold leadership” of then-premier Nawaz Sharif.

Youm-i-Takbeer is observed on May 28 to commemorate the historic day in 1998 when Pakistan joined the ranks of nuclear powers after atomic tests in the hills of Chagai, Balochistan. Pakistan became the seventh nuclear nation in the world and the first Muslim state to have a nuclear arsenal.

A day ago, PM Shehbaz had declared today a public holiday across the country on account of Youm-i-Takbeer.

The day dawned with special prayers and recitation of the Holy Quran in mosques for the country’s peace and prosperity, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

It recalled that Pakistan had carried out the atomic tests in response to the Indian nuclear explosions, making the country’s defence impregnable. Radio Pakistan stated that the country “defied international pressure to conduct the nuclear tests” under the leadership of then-premier Nawaz.

Social media accounts of the government and Radio Pakistan also used the hashtag “Hum28MayWalayHain” in posts celebrating Youm-i-Takbeer.

Rallies were taken out in Rawalpindi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swabi and Orakzai, with participants carrying national flags and raising slogans in support of the Pakistan Army, Radio Pakistan reported.

 Participants of a rally observe Youm-i-Takbeer in KP. — Radio Pakistan
Participants of a rally observe Youm-i-Takbeer in KP. — Radio Pakistan

In his message, PM Shehbaz said May 28 “encapsulates the narrative of our nation’s arduous yet remarkable path towards establishing a credible minimum deterrence” (CMD).

“On this historic day in 1998, [then-] PM Nawaz Sharif demonstrated bold leadership by rejecting nerve-wracking pressures and inducements to make Pakistan a nuclear-armed nation,” he wrote in a post on X.

The premier also paid tribute to ex-prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who he said was the “founder of Pakistan’s nuclear programme for his strategic foresight and unwavering commitment to the cause”.

“This significant day symbolises the collective effort of all facets of national power, overcoming what seemed like an insurmountable challenge and achieving a milestone in our country’s defence capabilities,” PM Shehbaz asserted.

Acting president Gilani said Youm-i-Takbeer served as a “testament to our nation’s resilience, unwavering determination and commitment to maintaining regional peace and stability”.

Calling the day a “pivotal moment in our history”, Gilani noted that the “journey to becoming a nuclear state was not without its difficulties”.

“Our leadership and scientists braved various challenges to achieve this remarkable feat,” he said, acknowledging the hard work of scientists and engineers “without whom this achievement would not have been possible”.

Gilani highlighted that Bhutto’s “efforts led to making Pakistan a nuclear state” and also appreciated former premier Benazir Bhutto’s “decision as the opposition leader of the time to support Mian Nawaz Sharif for conducting nuclear tests”.

“Indeed, it was the collective determination of our civil and military leadership as well as our scientific acumen, and unwavering dedication to national defence that propelled us forward,” Gilani emphasised.

“Pakistan, as a responsible nuclear state, firmly believes in the peaceful resolution of conflicts. We are also strictly adhering to international standards, and have implemented stringent controls and comprehensive safety measures to safeguard our nuclear assets,” the acting president said.

He added that Pakistan remained “committed to maintaining credible minimum deterrence, preserving the balance of power and deterring aggression”.

“Nuclear deterrence stands as a cornerstone of stability in South Asia, and we remain steadfast in our resolve to uphold this principle,” Gilani stated, calling Pakistan’s strategic capability a “powerful deterrent and a weapon for peace”.

He renewed Pakistan’s pledge to “continue working toward a peaceful and stable world”. “Let’s draw inspiration from this success and work together to make the country’s defence impregnable through technological and economic advancements,” the acting president said.

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Sahir Shamshad Mirza and services chiefs also felicitated the nation on Youm-i-Takbeer, Radio Pakistan reported.

In a statement, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the armed forces paid tribute to the “unwavering dedication and selfless sacrifices of all those who contributed to this remarkable feat, achieved against overwhelming odds”.

The armed forces “reaffirm their unwavering resolve to defend the motherland, protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and ensure the nation’s security at all times and any cost”, the ISPR asserted.

National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq highlighted that the nuclear tests were a “clear message to the world that the country’s defence was impregnable” and ensured the balance of power in the region.

“The successful nuclear tests highlighted the capabilities of Pakistan to face challenges with grit,” he said in a statement.

Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz who was the premier at the time, stressed that Youm-i-Takbeer was “a day of pride not just for Pakistan but also for the Islamic world”.

“We made Pakistan a nuclear power for strong defence; now making it economically invincible is our mission,” she said in a statement shared by her party.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari congratulated all Pakistanis, remembering the legacy of Bhutto, “who envisioned making Pakistan a nuclear power”.

In a statement, he said that his mother Benazir “steadfastly carried forward the vision” of his grandfather with “key services, including the provision of modern missile technology”.

Benazir “pressured the then-government to give a decisive response to Indian aggression”, Bilawal said, calling the scientists and others involved in the nuclear tests the country’s “heroes”.

Bilawal said the PPP was in favour of maintaining the policy of credible minimum deterrence and would continue to raise its voice against a global arms race and nuclear proliferation.

Information Minister Attaullah Tarar said Pakistan on May 28 that year had “declared that no one can enslave it”, Radio Pakistan reported.

Emphasising that then-PM Nawaz “proved to the world that Pakistan cannot be bought nor can it be swayed”, Tarar paid tribute to the “architect of the nuclear program, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, his team and all the scientists”.

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