Abu Rasikh Waseem Exactly 12 years ago, May 28 was pronounced as Pakistans finest hour by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Ras-Koh mountain range in Chaghai, in response to the Indian nuclear tests of May 11 and 13, 1998. This was, however, not the first time that India crossed the nuclear threshold. Earlier on May 18, 1974, India used illegally diverted plutonium from the 'peaceful CIRUS reactor to conduct Pokhran-I nuclear weapon test. Soon after the Indian nuclear tests in May 1998, many in Indian political leadership carried doubts about Pakistans nuclear capability. Home Minister L.K. Advani and many other BJP leaders started hurling threats, reminding Pakistan to conform to the new strategic realities in the region. Pakistan, however, did not panic into a reflex action and waited for international communitys response to the Indian nuclear tests. As witnessed in 1974, international communitys reaction to the 1998 Indian nuclear tests was equally ambivalent. While the US slapped mandatory sanctions against India, EU, France and Russia refused to follow suit. In the absence of achieving security assurances from the US, Pakistan conducted the last nuclear test on May 30, 1998 and thus, restored the disturbing strategic balance of power in the region. Since then and despite many crises, nuclear deterrence has effectively prevailed in the region. Above notwithstanding, this May 28, 2010 brought together a unique coincidence. At one side the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was being concluded where the world powers were struggling to defend this discriminatory instrument of global non-proliferation regime. And on the other side was Pakistan standing tall, consolidating itself as a responsible and an established nuclear power. Two recent events symbolises Pakistans this nuclear self-belief in the milieu of so-called 'emerging nuclear order. Firstly, it is Pakistans resolute and principled stance on the issue of Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). The proposed FMCT aims to ban the future production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Pakistan with a modest level of fissile stocks considers that such a ban would put it in a position of strategic disadvantage vis--vis India, and thus, undermine the credibility of its nuclear deterrent. Pakistan, therefore, propagates an FMT (minus the cut-off) that besides banning the future production, must also take into account the pre-existing fissile stocks. Pakistans resolve was manifest in January 13 National Command Authority (NCA) statement that noted: Pakistans position (on FMCT) will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of the strategic stability in South Asia, and that Pakistan will not support any approach or measure that is prejudicial to its legitimate security concerns. The NCA further noted (the destabilising effects of Indo-US nuclear deal and): The India-specific exemption made by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and subsequent nuclear fuel supply agreements with several countries, would enable India to produce substantial quantities of fissile material for nuclear weapons by freeing up its domestic resources. It is estimated that these nuclear deals would enhance Indias nuclear weapons production capability from seven to 40-50 nuclear weapons per year. Second is Pakistans rightful recognition at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) hosted by the US from April 12 to 13, 2010, at Washington DC. Through its proactive involvement in the negotiating process of the Joint Communiqu and the Work Plan, issued at the culmination of the NSS, Pakistan ensured that its interests were safeguarded and it did not undertake any commitment which was not consistent with its international obligations or national laws. Pakistan silenced all such evil voices that created a specific linkage between Pakistans nuclear weapons and their falling into the hands of terrorists. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was one of the lead speakers at the Summit, underscored that the nuclear terrorism was a global concern and all states must be in a state of constant preparedness for effective and timely response to the threat. He also said that Pakistan has put in place a multi-pronged robust nuclear security regime to ensure that its nuclear assets remain secure from insider as well as outsider threats. Complementing his views, President Barack Obama expressed confidence in Pakistans security around its nuclear weapons and admitted that no nation, including the US, was exempt from taking better steps to ensure security of its nuclear weapons. Pakistan also amply utilised the event to put forward its legitimate energy needs for power generation. In a national statement, issued at the Nuclear Security Summit, it was contested that with more than 35 years of experience in operating nuclear power plants, Pakistan fully qualified for participation in civil nuclear cooperation at the international level. As a country with advance fuel cycle capability and strong nuclear safety and security culture, Pakistan also offered its nuclear fuel cycle services under IAEA safeguards and showed its readiness to share competence in the areas of nuclear security, particularly prevention, detection and response to illicit trafficking. Pakistans nuclear self-belief should be comforting and assuring to the nation that Pakistan would earn its rightful place in this era of nuclear renaissance and it will not submit to international pressures, what so ever, to compromise the viability of its nuclear deterrent. The writer is a freelance columnist.