Press Release – Webinar on “Youm-e-Takbeer: Celebrating Peaceful and Prosperous Nuclear Pakistan”

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PRESS RELEASE

Webinar on
“Youm-e-Takbeer: Celebrating Peaceful and Prosperous Nuclear Pakistan”
May 28, 2021

The Arms Control and Disarmament Center (ACDC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) to mark the 23rd anniversary of Youm-e-Takbeer on May 28, 2021. The eminent speakers included Brig. Zahir Kazmi, Director General, ACDA-SPD; Mr Muhammad Kamran Akhtar, Director, ACDIS, MOFA; Dr. Rizwana Abbasi, Associate Professor, NUML; Dr. Pervaiz Butt, former Chairman PAEC; and Air Cdre. (Retd.) Khalid Banuri, Advisor SPD.

Malik Qasim Mustafa, Director ACDC at the ISSI, highlighted that since May 28, 1998, the Pakistani nation, every year, proudly commemorates “Youm-e-Takbeer,” as a day when Pakistan restored the balance of power in the South Asian Region by conducting nuclear tests. After acquiring nuclear weapons capability, Pakistan is ensuring the security of its nation with utmost restraints and responsibility. However, with the passage of time, as the traditional notion of security is changing, Pakistan also realises that to ensure comprehensive human security, it must ensure economic security, energy security, food security and environmental security, for its masses. Pakistan is making use of peaceful nuclear technology in almost all sectors including energy, agriculture, industry, medical, environment and other related areas to bring prosperity and growth. However, to fully benefit from this technology requires resources and international cooperation in the file of peaceful nuclear technology.        

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, in his welcome remarks said that developing nuclear weapons capability was a strategic imperative for Pakistan. He highlighted that in the aftermath of the 1998 Indian nuclear tests, there was tremendous pressure on Pakistan not to follow suit. However, the top Pakistani leadership withstood all pressure and overtly went nuclear. If Pakistan had not detonated India, with an extremist government, would be coercing Pakistan. Pakistan has always had a defensive strategy and its nuclear weapons are to ensure its security only. Now Pakistan is moving towards a comprehensive security paradigm. Thus, Pakistan is increasingly focused on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Pakistan is using nuclear technology to make progress in the agriculture, industry, medicine sectors.

Brig. Zahir Kazmi made remarks on “Socioeconomic and Security Achievements of Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme.” He said that today deterrence is at work – and it did not break down amid crises in past. The crisis that almost brewed to the brink in February 2019 is still fresh in our memory. He emphasised that today deterrence mechanism is in place against the full spectrum of threats at strategic, operational and tactical levels, which is within the philosophy of Credible Minimum Deterrence. He also highlighted the role of effective command and control which remains in place round the clock and ensures that nuclear weapons will never be used either accidentally or inadvertently. However, India continually seeks to dilute the deterrence that creates challenges for Pakistan. On Pakistan’s achievements in peaceful applications of nuclear technology for socio-economic development, he said it is in complete sync with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to be met by 2030. He said that nuclear technologies are contributing towards achieving poverty alleviation and zero hunger, the health sector where PAEC has established 18 hospitals that offer cancer treatment to around 1 million patients annually, quality education, clean water and sanitation and affordable and clean energy.

Mr Muhammad Kamran Akhtar said that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability aims to ensure strategic stability while, at the same time, avoidance of an arms race. He said that the global arms control regime is supposed to be a guarantor of peace. Thus, it should not be discriminatory. He highlighted that there is a renewed arms race at the regional and global level. On the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, he noted that the PAEC has contributed tremendously to the agriculture, industry, environment and medical sectors. As such, he said that we should not forget to thank our scientists and engineers at PAEC and appreciate their contribution to socioeconomic development. He said that states should now move beyond notions of traditional security. Pakistan has a huge peaceful nuclear programme and is ready to cooperate internationally to ensure sustainable development.

Dr. Rizwana Abbasi spoke on “International Cooperation for Peaceful Nuclear Technology: A Case for Pakistan.” She emphasised the role of nuclear energy as cost-effective, clean and sustainable. She said that the continued reliance on fossil fuels will generate irreversible damage. The world is moving away from reliance on fossil fuels. She emphasised the need to create public awareness on the issue. She also noted that Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) will need to be cognizant of the realities of nuclear power requirements across the world and in Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan should be given the membership of the NSG so that it can fully utilise the benefits of nuclear energy.

Mr. Pervaiz Butt made remarks on “Prosperity through Nuclear Power Generation in Pakistan.” He highlighted that the cost of generation of nuclear power is low. He said that the advantage of nuclear energy over other sources of energy is that nuclear power plants operate continuously while Hydroelectricity generation fluctuates according to water levels. He said that the K-2 power plant came online in March and produces 1100 MWe. He noted that the reason for the low cost of nuclear power generation is that Pakistan has its research centres, own universities, which is a good source of manpower. Nuclear energy share in the total power mix is 7.3% in 2020. It has helped develop industry in Pakistan and it playing a role in the economic development of the country.

Air Cdre. (Retd.) Khalid Banuri spoke on “Roadmap for Peaceful and Prosperous Nuclear Pakistan.” He highlighted three major areas that Pakistan has focused on peaceful uses of nuclear technology – energy generation, food security, and the health sector. He said that as per Pakistan’s Energy Security Plan to produce  8800 MWe of nuclear power by 2030 and over 42,000 MWe by 2047. Nuclear power will add 2200 MWe every 2-3 year. It will tremendously contribute to the economy. To achieve the goal of zero hunger, four agriculture research institutes using nuclear technology were built that are working tirelessly to augment agricultural production. The PAEC continues to provide cancer diagnostics and treatment using its resources and provides free treatment to patients who cannot afford it. He said that given Pakistan’s work and potential in various realms of safe and secure peaceful uses of nuclear technology, in support of select Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) makes a case for access internationally to associated technologies for which Pakistan has the right prowess, responsible approach and a track record of safety and security.

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BoG ISSI, in his concluding remarks, said that Pakistan was a reluctant nuclear weapon power. Over the decades, Pakistan was an ardent advocate of nuclear non-proliferation. However, India was not interested in pursuing nuclear non-proliferation. Pakistan tried to keep South Asia weapon free. He also emphasised the need to maintain credible nuclear deterrence in the face of emerging technologies and weapons systems. He also highlighted the importance of peaceful applications of nuclear technologies in sectors like health, agriculture and energy. For this, he said, that the credit goes to the community of scientists, engineers and researchers. It is helping in sustainable development goals, as well as socio-economic development. He noted that the world is applying different standards for India and Pakistan. Pakistan is being denied nuclear cooperation and it increases challenges for Pakistan.