Youm-e-Takbeer: Pakistan’s Nuclear Capability and Socio-Economic Challenges

Reflecting on Youm-e-Takbeer: Pakistan’s Nuclear Capability and Socio-Economic Challenges

Youm-e-Takbeer: Pakistan’s Nuclear Capability and Socio-Economic Challenges

By Abu Khaldoon

On May 28, 1998, Pakistan conducted its first successful nuclear tests, a historic event celebrated annually as Youm-e-Takbeer. This achievement, born out of a need to maintain a balance of power in the region, particularly in response to India’s nuclear tests, remains a point of national pride. However, as we celebrate this scientific and military triumph, it is essential to reflect on the broader socio-economic and political context within which Pakistan operates.

This year, the Pakistani government has declared a public holiday to commemorate this significant milestone. While Pakistan's nuclear capability underscores its strategic strength, a closer look at the country’s standing in various global indices reveals stark contrasts in its socio-economic and political landscape. Let's explore the dichotomy between Pakistan’s military prowess and its challenges in economic, political, and social arenas.

Reflecting on Youm-e-Takbeer: Pakistan’s Nuclear Capability and Socio-Economic Challenges

Economic Standing

Poverty and Human Development

Pakistan struggles with high poverty levels, with significant portions of the population lacking access to basic services such as education, healthcare, and clean water. According to the UNDP Human Development Index 2023, Pakistan scores 0.544 and stands at the 161st position out of 191 countries.

Hunger and Food Security

Pakistan faces significant challenges in food security and child nutrition. High levels of undernourishment and malnutrition among children are indicative of systemic issues in agricultural productivity and food distribution. The country ranks 99th out of 121 in the Global Hunger Index 2023.


The  World Bank, UNDP  Human Development Index places Pakistan at 161 number out of 191, with scoring 0.544 in terms of high poverty levels, with a significant portion of the population living below the poverty line. Pakistan's HDI reflects low life expectancy, education, and income indices.  

Economic Freedom

The business environment in Pakistan is characterized by bureaucratic hurdles, inconsistent regulatory practices, and limited market freedoms. The Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom (2023) ranks Pakistan 150th out of 180 countries, with a score of 49.7.

Debt Burden and Fiscal Challenges

Pakistan faces significant challenges related to its debt burden and fiscal management. As of December 2023, Pakistan's total external debt stands at a staggering $131.159 billion, highlighting the magnitude of its borrowing obligations and the strain on its economy.

Political Landscape

Democracy Index

Pakistan’s political system is marked by a mix of democratic and autocratic elements. Issues such as electoral irregularities, limited political freedoms, and governance inefficiencies continue to impede the country's democratic progress. This places Pakistan 104th out of 167 countries, scoring 4.31 in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023.

Human Rights

Human Rights Watch World Report by Amnesty International highlights ongoing issues such as freedom of expression, political repression, and minority rights violations. Specific rankings may not be provided, but Pakistan consistently faces criticism for human rights abuses.

Judiciary and Rule of Law

The judicial system in Pakistan faces numerous challenges, including delays in justice delivery, corruption, and limited access to legal services for the underprivileged. The World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index ranks Pakistan 130 out of 140, with scoring 0.39 in terms of judicial effectiveness and accessibility.

Press Freedom

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index (2023) places Pakistan at 157 out of 180 ,with scoring 42.63 in terms of  media freedom, including pluralism, independence, environment, self-censorship, legal framework, transparency, and infrastructure. Pakistan's low ranking indicates severe restrictions and risks for journalists.


Corruption remains pervasive in Pakistan, affecting all levels of government and public services. Efforts to combat corruption have seen limited success, further undermining public trust in political institutions and hindering economic development. Pakistan stands 140th out of 180 in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2023.

Social Indicators


Education in Pakistan suffers from poor access, quality, and infrastructure. The literacy rate remains low, and disparities in educational opportunities persist, particularly in rural areas and among girls. According to UNESCO's report, 26 million children are out of school in Pakistan, which is very alarming.

Healthcare Access

The healthcare system in Pakistan is underdeveloped, with limited access to quality medical services, particularly in rural areas. The country needs significant investment in healthcare infrastructure and services to improve overall public health.

Gender Equality

Gender inequality is a pronounced issue in Pakistan, with substantial disparities in economic participation, education, health, and political empowerment. Efforts to promote gender equality and empower women are crucial for the country’s socio-economic development. Pakistan ranks 151st out of 156 in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2023.

Environment and Climate Change

Pakistan faces significant environmental challenges, including pollution and climate change impacts. According to the Yale Environmental Performance Index 2022, Pakistan ranks low in terms of air quality, water resources, and overall environmental health.

Clean Water Availability

Access to clean water remains a critical issue in Pakistan, with significant portions of the population lacking safe drinking water. This impacts health and well-being and underscores the need for substantial improvements in water management infrastructure.

Comparison and Reflection

As we celebrate Pakistan’s nuclear achievements, it is crucial to juxtapose this with the pressing socio-economic and political challenges the country faces. The capability to build and maintain nuclear weapons demonstrates advanced scientific and technical skills, significant resources, and strategic foresight. However, the indices reflect a different narrative about the overall well-being of the Pakistani population.

Strategic Capability vs. Socio-Economic Reality

While Pakistan’s nuclear capability ensures its strategic security, the country's socio-economic indicators paint a picture of significant struggles in poverty alleviation, economic freedom, corruption, and human development. The juxtaposition highlights the need for a balanced approach that not only focuses on military and strategic advancements but also on improving the quality of life for its citizens through robust economic policies, transparent governance, and inclusive social programs.

Political Stability and Good Governance

The hybrid regime status and high corruption levels underscore the necessity for political reforms aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, ensuring electoral integrity, and fostering public trust in governance.

Social Development and Human Rights

Addressing hunger, improving educational outcomes, and promoting gender equality are critical for social development. Investments in these areas will not only enhance human capital but also drive economic growth and societal stability.


On this Takbeer Day, as we honor Pakistan’s nuclear achievements, it is imperative to reflect on the broader challenges that lie ahead. Bridging the gap between military capability and socio-economic development requires a concerted effort from policymakers, civil society, and the international community. By prioritizing human development, economic freedom, and good governance, Pakistan can strive towards a future where its strategic strength is complemented by the well-being and prosperity of its people. End


  1. Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023: EIU Democracy Index
  2. Human Rights Watch: World Report 2023
  3. Amnesty International: Annual Report 2023
  4. World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2023: WJP Rule of Law Index
  5. UNDP Human Development Index 2023: UNDP HDI Report
  6. Global Hunger Index 2023: GHI Report
  7. Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2023: Transparency International CPI
  8. Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom 2023: Heritage Index of Economic Freedom
  9. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index 2023: RSF Press Freedom Index
  10. UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report: UNESCO GEM Report
  11. World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2023: WEF Gender Gap Report
  12. Yale Environmental Performance Index 2022: EPI Report
  13. World Bank Doing Business Report 2020: Doing Business Report
  14. Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Inclusive Internet Index 2023: Inclusive Internet Index
#Youm-e-Takbeer #Pakistan'sGlobalRankings #EconomicChallenges #PoliticalStability #CorruptioninPakistan #PovertyinPakistan #EducationinPakistan

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