by Dr. Shahid Hameed

Yom-e Takbeer is a day of pride and commemoration for Pakistan that marks the country’s successful nuclear test in 1998. It established Pakistan’s global stature as a nuclear power and made it the first Muslim state to have this capability. Yom-e Takbeer celebration aims to honor the efforts and sacrifices of the individuals who contributed to Pakistan’s nuclear program and to reaffirm the country’s commitment to maintaining a strong defense. It also reflects and professes Pakistan’s achievements to ensure national security and regional stability in South Asia. Nuclearization is a distinct character in contemporary international relations and also refers to achieving national prestige on the world stage. This capability not only elevates a state’s military strength but also improves its influence, capabilities, and status in the international community. By and by, the nuclear character can be considered a prime source for protecting the sovereignty and independence of a state in contemporary world politics.

The advent of the nuclear age also gave birth to several theoretical debates and approaches in international relations literature. However, the history of the modern state system shows that nuclear power states faced fewer external interventions as compared to non-nuclear states. The most prominent framework in Western scholarship that can be applied in the case of South Asian strategic stability and peace is the rational deterrence theory, which profoundly rejects ideas of expected loss and gains based on simple rational choice debates. The question of how and why Pakistan’s nuclear capability defines Pakistan’s future can be traced through Kenneth N. Waltz’s neo-realist philosophy of war and peace.

Pakistan experienced a disastrous episode of disintegration, which is usually linked with geographic and political attributes. However, the aspect that is missing from the discourse is Pakistan’s limited options for defense and deterrence before its nuclearization. Post-1998, South Asia is more stable and strategically balanced as compared to the pre-nuclearization period. The nuclearization of Pakistan minimized and dissuaded any direct, full-scale aggression by any external state. The proponents of this Western scholarship strongly believe that attaining nuclear weapons in the contemporary age is the only way to protect national security from external aggression.

Another aspect of this scholarship is very interesting and supports Pakistan’s ‘minimum credible deterrence’ approach. It justifies and distinguishes the defensive approach of small states. As compared to powerful states and great powers, the small nuclear powers pose less threat to any other state because they don’t intend to use nuclear weapons during low-intensity wars or small conflicts and keep them safe for any existential threat or as a last resort. Whereas economically and militarily powerful states do not have this distinct characteristic. There are also limited chances to gain momentum that may cross the nuclear threshold due to its unbearable costs on both sides. As a part of Pakistan’s efforts to promote peace and stability in the region, Yom-e-Takbeer provides foundations for the national security of Pakistan as it restores regional strategic stability and balance. Of course, the nuclear age is not new and has a seven-decade-long history, which is evidence of stability. It opens doors for diplomatic engagements and confidence-building measures instead of confrontation and conflicts.

The emergence of nuclear balance in South Asia also changed the traditional way of bilateral foreign policy behavior. A nuclear Pakistan has achieved a credible status to deal with all resolvable issues with its neighbors on the basis of equality and equity.  Pakistan’s nuclear capability is multidimensional and revolves around national security, national prosperity, and national prestige. Pakistan’s potential for peaceful use of nuclear technology aims to achieve and maintain sustainable prosperity at home and valuable prestige abroad.  Science diplomacy is part of Pakistan’s updated foreign policy behavior. Pakistan possesses unmatched experience and expertise in nuclear-based agriculture, health, and food security. Science diplomacy is the potential diplomatic corridor of the world in general and of South Asia in particular.

Yom-e-Takbeer not only reaffirms our resolve for the national defense of Pakistan but also reminds us of the direction of the nation, which is rooted in Quaid’s vision of unity, faith, and discipline. This is the right time to reorganize and integrate the elements of national unity and to reconstruct our national identity as “one nation”.

Dr. Shahid Hameed

The writer is Director of Research at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) AJK.

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir