Pakistan and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Pakistan began focusing on nuclear weapons development in January 1972 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who delegated the program to the Chairman of PAEC Munir Ahmad Khan. In 1976, Abdul Qadeer Khan also joined the nuclear weapons program, and, with Zahid Ali Akbar, headed the Kahuta Project, while the rest of the program being run in PAEC and comprising over twenty laboratories and projects was headed by Munir Ahmad Khan. This program would reach fruition under President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, then-Chief of Army Staff. Pakistan's nuclear weapons development was in response to neighboring India's development of nuclear weapons. Bhutto called a meeting of senior academic scientists and engineers on 20 January 1972, in Multan, which came to known as "Multan meeting". Bhutto was the main architect of this programme and it was here that Bhutto orchestrated nuclear weapons programme and rallied Pakistan's academic scientists to build the atomic bomb for national survival. At the Multan meeting, Bhutto also appointed nuclear engineer, Munir Ahmad Khan, as chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), who, until then, had been working as Director at the Nuclear Power and Reactor Division of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Vienna, Austria. In December 1972, Abdus Salam led the establishment of Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) as he called scientists working at ICTP to report to Munir Ahmad Khan. This marked the beginning of Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear detterence capability. Following India's surprise nuclear test, codenamed Smiling Buddha in 1974, the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation outside the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council, the goal to develop nuclear weapons received considerable impetus.

Finally, on 28 May 1998, a few weeks after India's second nuclear test (Operation Shakti), Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Ras Koh Hills in the Chagai district, Balochistan. This operation was named Chagai-I by Pakistan, the underground iron-steel tunnel having been long-constructed by provincial Martial Law Administrator General Rahimuddin Khan during the 1980s. The last test of Pakistan was conducted at the sandy Kharan Desert under a codename Chagai-II, also in Balochistan, on May 30, 1998. Pakistan's fissile material production takes place at Nilore, Kahuta, and Khushab/Jauharabad, where weapons-grade plutonium is made by the scientists. Pakistan thus became the 7th country in the world to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons.

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