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May 30, 2020

‘Pakistan effectively using nuclear technology for socio-economic development’

Islamabad : Pakistan’s nuclear programme has not only ensured national security and regional peace but it has also helped the country pursue 12 sustainable development goals and promote socio-economic development. Pakistan is one of only 13 countries that are effectively using nuclear technology to meet own socioeconomic development needs and are capable of sharing the nuclear knowledge and expertise with others for peaceful purposes.

These thoughts were shared by experts during a webinar organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) here to mark the 22nd anniversary of the country's nuclear tests that were conducted on May 28, 1998.

The speakers included Dr Naeem Salik, former director at the Strategic Planning Division, Dr Ansar Pervez, former chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, and Kamran Akhtar, director general (arms control and disarmament) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Other participants of the event chaired by IPS executive president Khalid Rahman included security analyst Brig (retd) Said Nazeer Mohmand, Air Commodore (retd) Khalid Iqbal, Commodore (Retd) Dr Azhar Ahmad and former AJK minister Farzana Yaqoob.

Foreign Office DG Kamran Akhtar said the huge Indian defence acquisitions and developments in the areas of artificial intelligence, cyber security and space militarisation were destabilising the region and the international community should exercise care and caution in sharing advanced nuclear and other related technologies with India, which was emerging as an extremist and anti-status quo state.

He said the international community had a collective responsibility to dissuade India from engaging in any misadventure as any such step would have grave consequences not only for the region but also for the entire world.

Kamran Akhtar said Pakistan could be compared with any developed country in terms of its nuclear expertise, knowledge and capabilities, and was completely qualified to become an active and productive member of the strategic export control regime of the world.

Former PAEC chief Dr Ansar Pervez said the nuclear technology was being used for peaceful purposes all over the world in diverse sectors including medicine, health, agriculture, industry, pollution control, water resources management, safe and sustainable electricity production.

He said the nuclear technology, for instance, had allowed Pakistan to develop 100 new crop varieties, which had added Rs1,200 billion to national exchequer, whereas 800,000 cancer patients were treated every year by hospitals using nuclear radiation.

Dr Naeem Salik said Pakistan became a nuclear weapon state once its security needs were neither understood not met by the world and its several arms control initiatives were not reciprocated and expectations for security assurances were not met.

"Pakistan has a credible minimum deterrence posture, which provides Pakistan security without engaging in a costly arms race with India," he said.

IPS senior research fellow Syed Muhammad Ali said Pakistan’s strategic restraint should not be seen as a sign of weakness and any type or level of aggression against Pakistan in any domain would be swiftly and effectively responded through a quid pro quo approach. "Pakistan’s nuclear programme has given security and pride to the nation and confidence to our leadership and diplomats," he said.

The experts maintained that the nation was really proud of its scientists and engineers, who had played the central role in the development of the country’s nuclear programme.

IPS executive president Khalid Rahman said the unparalleled success of Pakistan’s nuclear programme was evidence that whenever the Pakistani nation and its leadership had resolved and consistently pursued any goal with strong commitment, then the goal was achieved despite all hurdles and against heavy odds.

"This aspect of the nature of the Pakistani nation provides us with a guiding principle to follow in policy making to address various issues of national significance as well. If we understand these principles and pursue our other national goals with similar zeal, spirit, determination, consistency and unity, then we can effectively meet all other challenges that our nation faces," he said.