Islamabad: Pakistan hailed the tenth anniversary of its first nuclear tests today, saying it marked a decade of “responsibility and restraint” by the Islamic world’s only atomic power.
The foreign ministry issued a statement marking the anniversary of the detonations on 28May, 1998, which were carried out in response to nuclear tests by India, causing worldwide alarm.
“It was a historic day in the nation’s quest for security,” the statement said of the tests. “Pakistan has taken its responsibilities as a nuclear weapon state seriously. We have not relented in our pursuit for creating a peaceful global and regional environment,” it added.
International community expresses concerns on Pak’s political stability
The anniversary comes amid continuing concerns about the security of politically unstable Pakistan’s estimated arsenal of around 50 atomic weapons and its role in nuclear proliferation.
The UN atomic watchdog chief voiced concern in January over the possibility that its warheads could fall into extremist hands, while a US intelligence report warned in March of “vulnerabilities” in the army’s control of them.
International investigators meanwhile want to question Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, who admitted in 2004 that he passed secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
Khan remains under house arrest in Islamabad. The foreign ministry however said that Pakistan had set up an elaborate nuclear command and control mechanism in February 2000 and had established strong export control mechanisms which met international standards.
Pakistan was “opposed to a nuclear arms race in South Asia”, referring to relations with India, with whom Islamabad launched a slow-moving peace process in January 2000.
The statement said Pakistan had endeavoured to “promote the cause of peace, disarmament and non-proliferation”.
Pakistani students protest at agitation
Pakistani students protested after police stopped them meeting disgraced atomic scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. The group of around 50 students from the hardline Jamaat-i-Islami party chanted slogans against president Pervez Musharraf after they were prevented from handing gifts to Khan at his Islamabad home, an AFP reporter witnessed.