‘Pakistan’s nuclear programme can be used for the benefit of civilians’
KARACHI: “Misperceptions about radiation can be more dangerous than radiation itself,” said Brigadier Zahir ul Haider Kazmi, Director-General, Arms Control and Disarmament, while delivering his keynote address at a seminar on ‘Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy’ organised by Rabita Forum International in collaboration with the University of Karachi on Monday.
“Radiation fascinates and frightens people. But one must carry correct perception about radiation which is that it saves more lives than it can take. About 96 per cent radiation is absorbed through medical X-rays alone and one also receives huge doses of radiation when passing through airport security scans,” he pointed out.
“When nuclear power plants are being built, people, even educated people, raise such a scare while not even caring to know that the plants are going to contribute energy to the national grid like Karachi Nuclear Power Plant [KANUPP] does and like KANUPP 2 [K2] and K3 will do as they go on line in 2020 and 2021, respectively. They will also have a big hand in the socioeconomic uplift of Pakistan as the gap between energy supply and demand is hurting the economic growth of the country,” he claimed.
Brigadier Kazmi further elaborated the many uses of nuclear power such as power production, cancer treatment, food irradiation, making fertilisers, desalination, transportation and also human resource development.
He said that there were currently some 40 countries which are planning to start their nuclear energy programmes whereas Pakistan already has the experience. Pakistan Atomic Energy Committee was formed in 1954. The following year it became known as the Pakistan Atomic Energy Council to become the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) the year after that.
“We must export nuclear energy for positive and peaceful purposes since we are a state with experience and capability,” he said. “Yes, nuclear power is associated with weapons of mass destruction but peaceful uses of nuclear energy have nothing to do with weapons. Pakistan engages with international forums for safe nuclear application technology and nuclear safety and security,” he said.
Shahid Riaz Khan, director, Scientific Information and Public Relations at PAEC, said that PAEC has provided a head start to several national organisations such as the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission or Suparco, Khan Research Laboratories, the National Centre for Physics, the National Engineering and Science Commission and the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority.
Professor Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, director, Politics and IR at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, said that Pakistan has never violated the Geneva Convention but despite this whenever there has been a high alert at the borders, Pakistan faces the propaganda of being an irresponsible nuclear state. “Pakistan’s nuclear programme is far better and advanced than India’s. It is not just for gaining military power, it can also be used for the benefit of civilians and Pakistan has always given priority to the peaceful use of nuclear energy over the arms race,” he said.
University of Karachi’s Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid M. Iraqi said that Pakistan may be rather advanced in nuclear technology but from day one the country’s main purpose for doing that was using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and providing its citizens facilities that can be derived from it. “With the country’s growing population it was evident that it will not be possible to provide energy to all through traditional methods. Hence we saw and are seeing the construction of nuclear power plants,” he said.