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August 6, 2019

Experts see space for ample growth in Pakistan’s civil nuclear energy sector


August 6, 2019

Addressing a one-day seminar on the peaceful use of nuclear energy at Karachi University on Monday, Director General Arms and Controls and Disarmament Brigadier Zahir ul Haider Kazmi said that Karachi was the first city in Pakistan that benefited from nuclear energy after the 100-megawatt Karachi Nuclear Power Project (KANUPP) was transmitted to the grid on October 4, 1972, while KANUPP 2 and 3 would be linked to it by 2020 and 2021 and would bring more energy to the metropolis.

The Rabita Forum International in collaboration with the University of Karachi had organised the seminar. The keynote speakers included Brigadier Kazmi, Quaid-e-Azam University’s Politics and International Relations Department Director Professor Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Karachi University Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi, and KU’s Department of International Relations Chairman Professor Dr Naeem Ahmed.

Brigadier Kazmi said Pakistan’s nuclear energy sector had contributed to the socio-economic uplift of the county and there was ample space for growth in this industry.

“The nuclear energy sector has been playing a very important role in power generation, minerals exploration, developing high-yield stress-tolerant crops, cancer treatment, designing and fabrication of industrial plants and equipment and human resource development for many years.”

He said Pakistan is one of the countries in the world that have operated a complete nuclear fuel cycle and is amongst 30 countries that have nuclear power plants in operation. “Pakistan has a remarkable experience in safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants. We have the expertise and the ability to supply items, goods and services for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses.”

Pakistan has established four agriculture centres that use energy for optimisation of important crop varieties, development of better methods for conservation of inputs and products, in addition to maximum use of innovation technologies.

Brigadier Kazmi further stated that safety and security were an integral part of any nuclear program and vital for saving humans from technology and ensuring that humans did not misuse the technology.

Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said that we all are convinced that Pakistan is a responsible state and uses its nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

“When we have a glance at the rapidly growing population of Pakistan and even the faster growing power needs of this population, one can convincingly understand that it is impossible to meet these needs by use of the conventional methods and techniques for power generation. Our nuclear plants are significantly (not sufficiently though) helping power requirements.”

He expressed that Pakistan became a nuclear power 21 years ago and acquiring this status was the only choice because the government and the people well understood the geo-political scenario and the history of its relations with the neighbours.

Prof Iraqi said that Pakistan consistently stands by its policy to develop an efficient and consumer- centric power generation, transmission and distribution system that meets the needs of its people and supports the country’s economy in a sustainable and affordable manner.

He further said that the main concern of our nuclear plants has been to completely eliminate power loadshedding, reducing the cost of electricity to affordable level for the citizens, and increasing revenue collection to support its economy.

During the recent years, according to the vice chancellors, our industries have faced a significant setback due to power deficit, which has ultimately placed a negative impact on the life of a considerable portion of our population in social and economic forms.

The nuclear power for peaceful use is our highly-deserved priority, he added. Professor Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Director Politics and International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, observed that whenever there is high alert at the boarders, Pakistan faces propaganda of being an irresponsible nuclear state despite the fact that Pakistan has never violated the Geneva Convention and always respects all international humanitarian laws and agreements.

He observed that Pakistan’s nuclear program is much better than its neighbouring country. The nuclear energy could be used for the benefit of civilians or to gain military power, he said, adding that Pakistan always gives priority to peaceful use of nuclear energy over the race to nuclear weapons.

Dr Jaspal shared that Japan’s progress in the nuclear energy sector is quite oblivious and its intentions are clear that it wants to boost the industry and economy by advancing in the nuclear energy sector.

Dr Naeem Ahmed, chairman of the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi, said that Pakistan is a very responsible nuclear state though India has consistently been threatening it, and this is why Pakistan has adopted a defensive policy.

Dr Ahmed read out a paper that aimed to answer four questions: why did Pakistan acquire nuclear capability, what are the factors that have been creating nuclear instability in South Asia, what are the Western concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear programme, and what needs to be done?

Answering these queries one after another, Dr Naeem said Pakistan’s nuclear programme was India-compelled as it was India that initiated a nuclear arms race in South Asia, testing its first nuclear weapon in 1974.

He said Kashmir has been a dispute and source of tension between the two countries, which have also fought wars. Dr Ahmed said that Western concerns were born out of reports of Dr AQ Khan’s network, and also because of the fear that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists. He added that after the AQ Khan’s episode, Pakistan successfully put in place strict safety and security measures, and effectively cracked down on terrorist groups, and that to a great extent helped address the Western concerns.

However, he said, the United States now intends to deploy medium-range missiles in Asia, which could lead to an arms race between the US and China. As a result, India and Pakistan could be dragged into it and new tensions could surface. Speaking of the solution, Dr Ahmed stressed the need for the resumption of the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan.

A former chairman of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), Anwar Habib, was established under the Ordinance III of 2001 for the regulation of nuclear safety and radiation protection.

Pakistan has signed the convention on nuclear safety in 1994 which binds states to established regulatory body separated from those involving the promotion of nuclear energy. He observed that major accidents in nuclear industry had prominently highlighted the importance of safety culture for all type of nuclear power plants operators, vendors, regulatory bodies. PNRA has demonstrated as role model for safety culture at national and international level by adopting various precautionary measures.

Chairman Rabita Forum International Nusrat Mirza and Dr Shahid Riaz Khan, director of Scientific Information and Public Relations, said that Pakistan wants friendly relations with its neighbouring countries. “The rest of the world is fully aware about our sacrifices for peace,” he said. “Pakistan was on the frontline in the war against terror. The Indian aggression shows that India is much careless despite the fact that both the countries are nuclear powers. But Pakistan has shown tolerance in the recent tension between the two countries.”

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