Every year on May 28, Pakistan celebrates “Youm-e-Takbir,” which translates as “Day of Greatness,” to commemorate the country’s first successful nuclear test. Locals in Balochistan’s Chagai area, as well as inhabitants throughout the province, observe the day as ‘Black Day.’
Locals are still suffering as a result of the nuclear bombs put out by the Pakistani government in the Ras Koh mountains 24 years ago. The region’s new generation of Baloch residents are known to suffer from chronic ailments caused by the blasts.
Just four days before the test were conducted, three Baloch men hijacked PIA flight 554, that took off from Turbat and was enroute to Karachi, on May 24, 1998. “They [the hijackers] were opposed to any nuclear test in Balochistan region following the recent Indian blasts, government, sources stated,” Dawn reported on May 25, 1998.
Sabir, Shaswar, and Shabir, the hijackers, planned to fly to India, but failed to do so. Instead, the pilot landed at Hyderabad airport in Pakistan, tricking the hijackers into thinking they had landed at Bhuj airfield in India. At night, Pakistani commandos defeated the hijackers, freeing the 30 passengers and five crew members on board.
On May 28, 2015, hijackers Shaswar and Sabir were executed at Hyderabad’s Central Jail, and Shabir was hanged in Karachi’s Central Jail.
What you need to know:
The Pakistani government declared shortly before the 1998 tests that the nuclear tests would be conducted in a remote location in Chagai district. However, Abdul Raziq states in his 2014 Master’s thesis, “Impacts of Nuclear Tests on Chagai,” that the region was indeed a village and was not uninhabited.
“The bombs affected four thousand people,” Raziq writes. “Even the government did not help the displaced and dislocated people.”