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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

All eyes on Pakistan’s nuclear program

India has never accepted Pakistan from the core of its heart and always trying to destabilize it and occupying it or integrate with Hindu Majority India. Occupation of the states of Hyderabad, Junagadh, and Jammu and Kashmir, was its demonstration of over-ambitions.

Since its birth in 1947, Pakistan has been consumed by a relentless quest for security. This preoccupation is derived in the first instance from the processes of Partition. Because Pakistan was imagined as the new homeland for the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, which never existed before. Partition produced a new state with awkward geography: Pakistan was born composed of two parts, with its western and eastern wings separated by a thousand miles of Indian Territory between them. To make things worse, the unfriendly separation that produced this topographic oddity was suffused by the threat of communal violence. It precipitated a massive exchange of population migration—where some 15 million individuals crossed the new borders between India and Pakistan to reach territories where their co-religionists made up the majority.

India has never accepted Pakistan from the core of its heart and always trying to destabilize it and occupying it or integrate with Hindu Majority India. Occupation of the states of Hyderabad, Junagadh, and Jammu and Kashmir, was its demonstration of over-ambitions. The struggle over Jammu and Kashmir would, in fact, provoke the first Indo-Pakistani war. Since then, Pakistan fought four wars and unlimited clashes on a long border between them. India is a big country, in the area as well as population, and always exerting a threat to Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistan nuclear technology helped country earn $7.4 bn

Understanding the matter better

The Afghan situation was also contentious pressure on Pakistan’s security and especially during the last four decades of unrest and war, has adverse security concerns for Pakistan.

But the scenario turned in 1974 completely, when India was declared a nuclear power. Pakistan was left with no option else. However, the Pakistani nuclear program started between 1963 and 1971 and acquired its first research reactor, the Pakistan Atomic Research Reactor-1 (PARR-1), a small, 5-megawatt safeguarded facility under the US program “Atoms for Peace program” in 1965.

Pakistan was focused only on the civilian side of the program initially, but, when India threaded Pakistan on several occasions with nuclear weapons after 1974. Especially in 1998, after India’s test of its nuclear detonators, has openly threatened and aggressively talked about Kashmir.

Pakistan always limited it to a program for deterrence purposes only and was cooperating with IAEA and the whole international community. Pakistan is a sensible nation and understands its international obligations. Its nuclear program is in safe hands and very well protected. It’s command and safety is the best in the world and there is no possibility of slipping into vulnerability.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi visited Pakistan from 15 – 16 February 2023. During the visit, the Director General called on the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, and the Foreign Secretary. Discussions during these meetings focused on further enhancement of cooperation between Pakistan and IAEA in the areas of peaceful applications of nuclear technology specifically its role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Director General Grossi also held meetings with the Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and the Chairman of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), who briefed him on the nuclear security and regulatory regime. At PNRA, he also inaugurated the National Radiation Emergency Coordination Centre (NRECC). Pakistan has five decades of experience in safe and secure operations of civil nuclear power plants which follow the IAEA standards and guidelines.

Read more: 100 million deaths and more: The cost of an India-Pakistan nuclear war

The Director General, of IAEA, visited Chashma Nuclear Power Generating Station (CNPGS), Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science &Technology (PINSTECH), Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), Pakistan Centre of Excellence on Nuclear Security (PCENS), Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy Institute (NORI) and the National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) to witness the safe and secure applications of nuclear technologies in the area of public health, industry, agriculture, food security, power generation.

At NORI and CNPGS, Director General Grossi inaugurated the CyberKnife and spent fuel dry storage facilities respectively. He also announced that Pakistan will serve, under the ‘Ray of Hope’ initiative, as IAEA’s Regional Center for cancer treatment. During his visit to NIAB, Mr. Grossi inaugurated the ZODIAC Lab and designated the institute as IAEA’s Collaborating Center in agriculture and biotechnology.

While visiting PCENS and NISAS, the Director General, of the IAEA, appreciated the high standards of these centers dealing with nuclear safety and security. These centers have been imparting international training under the IAEA aegis.

The way forward

Director General Grossi delivered a keynote address at a seminar on the topic “Climate Change Mitigation and the Role of Nuclear Energy” in Islamabad. In his address, he highlighted the importance of nuclear energy, as a clean source of energy, in countering the adverse impacts of climate change.

The visit concluded with a dinner hosted by the Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in honor of Director General Grossi.

Since 1957, Pakistan, being a founding member of the IAEA, enjoys a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with the Agency. As a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, Pakistan is also contributing to Agency’s decision-making. Such visits are a regular feature of PAKISTAN-IAEA interaction. Former Director General of IAEA Yukia Amano visited Pakistan twice during his tenure. Director General Rafael Grossi’s visit had been pending due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan is a mature and visionary nation committed to contributing toward global peace and stability ever.

 

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).     

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.