Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pervez Hoodbhoy, "Ten years later," PakPoint Network, May 29, 2008,

[One of Musharraf's accomplishments has been the growth of a strong press. -jlt]

The official celebration of violence, and the encouragement of public joy at successful bomb-making, proved to be the most lasting and pernicious legacy of the May 1998 nuclear tests.

IT’S May 1998 and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulates wildly cheering citizens as the Chagai mountain trembles and goes white from multiple nuclear explosions. He declares that Pakistan is now safe and sound forever.

Bomb makers become national heroes. Schoolchildren are handed free badges with mushroom clouds. Bomb and missile replicas are planted in cities up and down the land. Welcome to nuclear Pakistan.

Fast-forward the video 10 years. Pakistan turns into a different country, deeply insecure and afraid for its future. Grim-faced citizens see machine-gun bunkers, soldiers crouched behind sandbags, barbed wire and barricaded streets. In Balochistan and Fata, helicopter gunships and fighter jets swarm the skies.

Today, we are at war on multiple fronts. But the bomb provides no defence. Rather, it has helped bring us to this grievously troubled situation and offers no way out. On this awful anniversary, it is important that we relate the present to the past.

Some say that India forced Pakistan to test. This could indeed be true. India lied about its ‘peaceful’ nuclear programme, India tested first, India then hurled threats at Pakistan, India jeered as Pakistan agonised over its response. But once Pakistan followed suit, it forgot that it had done so reluctantly and under provocation. The bomb immediately generated its own dynamics.

Read the rest here =>

Pervez Hoodbhoy is a Professor of Nuclear Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. His regular column, Particle Politics, appears in Chowk.

This article was originally published in the Daily Dawn.Recommend this Post

Sphere: Related Content