Untold saga of Pak’s 1998 atomic blasts: Nuclear radiation ill-effects in Balochistan

The men in uniform at Rawalpindi and their acquiescent politicians in Islamabad miss no chance to harp about Pakistan’s nuclear status and how it has given them that much needed ‘edge’ in military strength. Amidst this chest thumping and blatant self-aggrandizement an important aspect is conveniently hidden that remains out of public discussion and media scrutiny even to this day, such that none of the international health or human rights organisations have even bothered to talk about it. And that’s the ill-effects of lethal nuclear radiation on Baloch people across Balochistan.

Pakistan conducted five nuclear blasts on 28 May 1998 at Chagi district in Balochistan. Immediately after the atomic blasts Pakistan said its nuclear tests were in response to India’s nuclear tests conducted a fortnight earlier on 11th May 1998. This remains the popular narrative even today, so much so that journalists and political analysts still discuss how Pakistan’s nuclear tests brought back equilibrium in the Indian subcontinent that had tilted in favour of India after May 11. But, this narrative conveniently ignores two points; one that Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions were afoot for several years that dates back to early seventies which was led by Rawalpindi’s delusion to gain an edge over India. However, it’s the second point which is much more significant, and this is the ill-effects of lethal nuclear radiation on hapless Baloch people.

Ever since Pakistan deceitfully captured Balochistan in 1948 it has been unsuccessfully trying to tame the Baloch revolutionaries but failed miserably. Islamabad that had constantly been on a look out for an opportunity to teach a lesson to the Balcoh, found one, when it decided to conduct nuclear tests in 1998.

The atomic blasts were mandatory before Pakistan could declare herself a nuclear state. However, before conducting nuclear tests all civilized nations choose uninhabited zones and take adequate checks and balances so that their citizens are not harmed. Pakistan did the opposite. In a carefully calculated move, the Rawalpindi’s Generals zeroed upon the Ras Koh mountain range in Balochistan’s district Chagi.

Thereafter Pakistan conducted five nuclear blasts in the Ras Koh mountain range in district Chagi on May 28, 1998. Due to these nuclear blasts the black mountains of Ras Koh turned white within seconds. If these nuclear blasts can change the colour of a black mountain to white, one can very well imagine how much hazardous these nuclear radiation would be for the Baloch people who lived in the vicinity of these mountains. The nuclear radiation and its ill effects continue even to this day.

Soon after the atomic tests the Pakistani politicians and Pakistan Army merrily gave bytes to media about the success of nuclear blasts and walked away in gleeful abundance knowing that the lethal nuclear radiation would silently gnaw the hapless Baloch population.

Experts opine that animals who have been exposed to nuclear radiation must be eliminated and a clear boundary be drawn such that any living form be it the plants, fish, wild animals, livestock etc. that had been exposed to nuclear radiation remain confined within the line such that none of these living being enter the human food chain. This offers a glimpse of how lethal are the effects of nuclear radiation and how high the standards of safeguards should be to contain it.

Thousands of cattle and other animals died in Balochistan due to the nuclear radiation caused by Pakistan’s May 28, 1998 nuclear blasts at Ras Koh mountains in district Chagi, Balochistan.

Safety guidelines against nuclear radiation further state that despite all precautions if some people do get exposed to nuclear radiation then they must remain under constant supervision of doctors for at least five to ten years for regular and periodic medical check-ups. The ill effects of nuclear radiation include cancer, tumours, respiratory diseases, birth defects, miscarriage, infertility etc. However, the motive of Pakistani generals was to deliberately spread death and disease across Balochistan and so they never gave any notice to the unsuspecting Baloch people in the vicinity of Ras Koh mountain range to move to safer locations before the nuclear blasts, nor did they make any arrangements for medical aid to mitigate the radiation’s ill-effects. On the contrary, nuclear radiation was allowed to spread across Balochistan.

After Pakistan’s nuclear misadventure in 1998 Balochistan experienced continuous drought for seven long years; wild animals, livestock such as sheep and goats died in hordes, water bodies and its aquatic life became contaminated and above all the Baloch people developed nuclear radiation related disorders and diseases.

Yet another ill-effect of Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear blast has been on the source of income for Baloch people. Trade of livestock and other animals was the main livelihood of Baloch people living in these areas. All of this was destroyed and it remains in shambles. Thousands of sheep and goat died, water bodies became poisonous rendering fishing unviable. Sheep and goat were not been able to breed, such has been the lethal impact of nuclear radiation on animals, livestock and aquatic life. With the only source of income gone, the Baloch have been forced to live in abject poverty. This led to mass migration of Baloch population from Chagi and adjoining areas who were forced to live a life of refugee in different areas of Balochistan. Thousands of these displaced Baloch people still live like refugees in different cities.

Baloch people leaving their home to escape the nuclear radiation caused due to Pakistan’s atomic blast at Ras Koh mountains in district Chagi, Balochistan.

A colonizer and occupying state uses all kinds of tactics to subdue the native population and this is what Pakistan did with the Baloch people with its 1998 nuclear tests. Rawalpindi calculated that a sick population that’s fighting congenital diseases will have no time to fight back Pakistan Army and so the uniformed faujis can continue to loot the resource-rich Balochistan.

Dr Abdual Qadeer Khan, once hailed as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb is now a disgraced scientist who had been clandestinely selling nuclear know-how to other nation states notably to North Korea and Iran. It’s high time the world realizes that Pakistan is a rogue nuclear power state that pays no regards to the life of people. The nuclear bomb and its technology must remain in the hands of responsible powers where it’s used only as a deterrent rather than fall into the hands of power hungry maniacs of Rawalpindi and Islamabad who miss no chance to flaunt the nuclear muscle even as their populace sleeps on empty stomach and thousands battle nuclear radiation related diseases.

Vivek Sinha
Vivek Sinha
Founder & Editor-in-Chief, News Intervention. He has been in various editorial roles at The Times of India, Deccan Chronicle, The Asian Age and Hindustan Times. Vivek is also a Filmmaker and has made several short films and documentaries. His documentary "Muzaffarnagar--aakhir kyon?" that has a detailed account of 2013 communal riots at Muzaffarnagar has been highly appreciated and is extremely popular. Vivek is also the Author of novel "Chip in the Madrasa" which is an insightful tale that unravels the vicious game of Wahhabis and their vice-like grip on Muslim minds across the globe. His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28

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