May 28: Remembering the bomb, forgetting the people

Today marks the best of days and today marks the worst of days. May 28 or as a true patriot would call it “Youm-e-Takbeer” marks the day when Pakistan registered its might in modern warfare and arsenal by successfully conducting a controlled nuclear explosion.

Pakistan with its sensitive and strategic geographical location also became armed with perhaps the most powerful weapon (though there are some who still believe education is the most powerful weapon). Pakistan had the attention of the world and especially had its good neighbor, India, and our favorite piñata (minus the candies), Uncle Sam, up in arms. What followed was a series of embargoes – the Rupee being devalued by 50% and the then Nawaz Government being left with no option but to freeze US$10 billion in private forex reserves. Interestingly, according to Nawaz Sharif himself, he denied an aid package of US$ 5 billion by President Clinton which was offered conditional to Pakistan not carrying out the tests.

15 years later, one may ask how has the common Pakistani actually benefited from Pakistan developing its nuclear arsenal? We currently have surpassed India in terms of our nuclear reserves and by some estimates are scheduled to take the third place after America and Russia in terms of nuclear bombs by 2020. Between the Ministry of Water and Power and various government bodies, Pakistan’s electricity demand is 14,000 to 17,000 MW.

Appallingly, our nuclear program which has produced over 100 bombs produces less than 1000 MW electricity for the country!

This looks even sadder when one recalls history as back in the 1950s under US President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Program, Pakistan, India and Iran were supposed to be prototypes of promotion of positive use of nuclear energy such as electricity. However, given Indian intentions of building a bomb, Pakistan joined the rat race.

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