To commemorate Pakistan’s Youm-e-Takbeer, Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad organised a workshop titled: “Nuclear Pakistan: Exploiting Nuclear Technology for Peaceful Purposes.”
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari delivered the keynote address at the occasion. She argued that it is pertinent to consider the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, which has the potential for contributing towards socio-economic development of Pakistan.
Ex-chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Anser Pervaiz said that by conducting nuclear tests on 28 May, 1998 Pakistan overtly demonstrated its nuclear capability to defend itself against any aggression from its Eastern neighbor. Dr Pervaiz highlighted Pakistan’s achievements in developing peaceful nuclear energy, which is being utilized in various sectors including, health, agriculture and industry. He noted that Pakistan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has stringent regulations to ensure nuclear safety. Dr. Pervaiz noted that Pakistan established its first nuclear power plant in 1972, and called to focus greater attention on meeting the country’s energy needs through nuclear energy production that is both cleaner and more cost efficient in the long term.
Director General Arms Control and Disarmament Division, Muhammad Kamran Akhtar discussed the political aspects of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Mr. Akhter argued that the current nuclear order has undermined the inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology for some countries. He argued that Pakistan was denied access to nuclear technology, whereas in 2008 the US signed a nuclear deal with India and pushed an exemption for India inside the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). This waiver puts Pakistan at a strategic disadvantage vis-a-vis India, as India can now keep the imported fuel under safeguards while diverting its indigenous nuclear fuel towards military purposes. Kamran called for greater indigenization of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and called for commercialization of Pakistan’s supply capabilities in its civilian nuclear programme. He argued that as compared to India, Pakistan has a much cleaner separation between its civilian and military nuclear facilities.
Dr. Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights in her closing remarks warned that if India becomes a member of the NSG, Pakistan’s entry into the group will be blocked and our access to technology will be adversely affected as all decisions in the NSG are taken through consensus. Mazari emphasized that Pakistan has a very strong safety record of its nuclear facilities and the country has successfully separated its civilian nuclear programme from its military component and called for pro-active diplomacy.
Mazari stressed that Pakistan has achieved substantial gains in developing and utilizing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. She added, “there comes a time when you stop appeasing the West and look at your own national interests” while calling for taking further steps towards utilizing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and called for exploring cooperation with other countries, including its neighbors.