28th May 1998 (Youm-e-Takbeer – the Day of Greatness) was the day when Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests on the hills of Chaghi, Balochistan, becoming the first Islamic nuclear power state. By conducting the nuclear tests, Pakistan became the seventh nation in the world to publically test nuclear weapons.
Youm-e-Takbeer, 28th May 1998
That day is celebrated every year in Pakistan as a national day, known as “Youm-e-Takbeer”, in commemoration of Chagai-I and Chagai-II.
Chagai-I is the code name given to five conducted nuclear tests on 28th May 1998 at 15:15 hrs PST. Those tests were conducted at Ras Koh Hills in the Chaghi/Chagai District of Balochistan. The chagai-I operation was carried out in direct response to Indian second nuclear tests on 11 and 13 May 1998.
Chagai-II, a codename for the second nuclear test, was carried out on 30th May 1998 in the Kharan desert in Balochistan.
Pakistan Became Nuclear Power
The conduction of the nuclear tests was a compulsion for Pakistan, because of its arch-rival, India had earlier conducted multiple nuclear tests, Pokhran-I and Pokhran-II, in 1974 and 1998. Pakistan has conducted the tests under immense international pressure and threats of sanctions. The nuclear tests served as deterrence to India’s hegemonic aspirations in the region.
Historically, Pakistan and India had fought three wars, i.e. in 1948, 1965, and 1971. Three years after the war of 1971, India conducted its first nuclear test under the code name ‘Smiling Buddha’ on 18 May 1974.
In 1972, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto initiated Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program soon after Pakistan lost its eastern part ‘Bangladesh’ in a war of 1971 with India. Indian nuclear tests in 1974 gave fresh momentum to Pakistan’s nuclear program. Moreover, the arrival of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a German-trained Metallurgist, gave a further boost to the nuclear program.
Becoming a nuclear power was mandatory for Pakistan for its survival.
“We (Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (Atom bomb)… We have no other choice!”Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Eventually, when India again conducted a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions in May 1998; Pakistan was left with no choice but to respond by detonating its nuclear devices on 28th May 1998. This marked a significant day in history, commonly known as “Youm-e-Takbeer”.
“Today, we have settled a score and have carried out five successful nuclear tests.”Nawaz Sharif (the then Prime Minister) said in a televised speech to the nation on 28th May 1998.