Energy ensures stability for Pakistan

By Joe Yan Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-19 21:07:22

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the groundbreaking ceremony of a $9.59 billion nuclear power program in Karachi in late December, and China contributed significant funding to the complex. Because Pakistan has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, public attention has shifted again to Sino-Pakistani nuclear cooperation.

More rational analysis is needed instead of unwarranted speculation. Developing nuclear power shows an objective demand for national rejuvenation by injecting vigor into Pakistan's sluggish economy, which has chronically been restricted by a severe energy shortfall.

The 2012 annual report by PricewaterhouseCoopers released that power shortage created a loss of $13.5 billion in average annual GDP of Pakistan. Addressing the nationwide energy crisis is a key priority of the new Pakistani government. Economic growth is a fundamental way to promote Islamabad's political stability and an effective route to contain terrorism.

China and Pakistan have been enjoying increasingly mature relations in nuclear power building via normal and transparent collaboration activities. The two signed an agreement to construct nuclear power stations in as early as 1991 and the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex includes four Chinese reactors. The bilateral nuclear cooperation under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards is entirely peaceful.

Sun Weidong, China's ambassador to Pakistan, told media that energy and infrastructure cooperation will top the 2014 agenda in Beijing-Islamabad relations and that Chinese enterprises plan to expand investment in hydropower, polar energy, wind power and civil nuclear energy in Pakistan.

China has proposed "nuclear power going global" as a national strategy. China has the largest nuclear power capacities under construction in the world, and its independent technologies are widely recognized.

In October 2013, the investment project by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Power Corporation in the UK was approved. In November China's National Energy Administration put forward for the first time the policy for nuclear power to go global in a program, outlining the scientific development of nuclear energy companies.

The Karachi Nuclear Power Complex applies 1,100 megawatts ACP1000 units from CNNC, signaling the debut of China's third generation nuclear power technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights in a foreign country. China's export of nuclear power technologies and Islamabad's dire need for electricity mean prospects are bright for the two states to consolidate their nuclear cooperation.

In addition, nuclear proliferation should not become an obstacle to peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Washington has associated non-proliferation with anti-terrorist endeavors since the 9/11 attacks. As a sanctuary for a number of the world's most extreme and violent groups, Pakistan has long been bearing the brunt of turbulence and Western countries are reluctant to provide assistance, because Abdul Qadeer Khan, a key figure in Pakistan's nuclear program, admitted in 2004 that he leaked secrets to Iran and Libya. Therefore, Islamabad should make every effort to ensure that no relevant information or technologies fall in the hands of terrorists to reduce the risk of proliferation.

The international community should not only pay attention to horizontal proliferation among countries but also heed vertical proliferation. It is because of the latter that nuclear and non-nuclear states have always failed in effectively resolving their contradictions.

Peaceful use of nuclear constitutes an effective way to bridge energy gap in the future and non-nuclear states cannot and shall not be deprived of the right to peaceful nuclear power application with the excuse of non-proliferation.

If Pakistan succeeds in shaking off poverty and backwardness through nuclear power generation, other countries will not be capable of interfering with its internal affairs. In this way it will better safeguard its core interests through its growing national strength, weakening Washington's presence in South Asia.

Sino-Pakistani nuclear cooperation will serve as a prompt for other nations, Asian states in particular, to engage in similar collaboration with China, thus promoting interactions among them and potentially changing the geopolitical landscape.

The author is a diplomatic commentator based in Pakistan.

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