China continues to bolster its relationship with Pakistan by playing host to a three- day Energy Working Group in Beijing.
Concluded on January 9, it was hailed as a success by representatives from both countries.
In a statement, Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif said the meeting had been productive and beneficial to both the countries, and hoped that it would continue to strengthen Pak–China relationship.
“It would also help start new projects in the energy sector,’’ he said.
China has agreed to grant a loan of $6.5 billion to Pakistan to construct twin nuclear power stations in Karachi. It is envisioned, this will add 15 percent to the energy capacity of the country.
Pakistan desperately needs investment in its energy sector, as prolonged outages of both gas and electricity are wreaking havoc on the country’s economy.
Construction of the power plants, Kanupp II and Kanupp III (K-2 and K-3), began last year. China has also pledged to provide two nuclear reactors to Pakistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has conveyed his appreciation, saying, “It will be a big source of energy supply to Pakistan.”
This is the largest Chinese financing deal for a single project to date. Pakistani officials recently revealed that loans for the energy projects would be repaid over the next 20 years.
The loan was granted despite an international nuclear embargo on Pakistan, which Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry believes India and the US is largely responsible for.
In a press briefing in December, Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said, “Some countries are engaged in an international campaign against cooperation between Pakistan and China in the field of nuclear energy. The aim of this campaign is to deny nuclear power, material and technology to Pakistan.”
This effort, the spokesperson implied, is being led by the US and India.
A Chinese scholar, the executive director of the Pakistan Study Center at Sichuan University, Chen Jidong, also defends this nuclear partnership.
He writes in China’s The Global Times, “Pak-China nuclear cooperation would help mitigate Pakistan’s energy shortage besides deepening bilateral strategic partnership between the two countries.”
The chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Ansar Parvez also supported the collaboration.
Addressing the media at another nuclear power plant, Chasma, he said, “A number of joint declarations signed by the two countries have shown their plans for civilian nuclear cooperation. This will also allow Chinese nuclear companies to secure more business deals with Pakistan to help meet the demands for civilian use of nuclear power.”
He also said, “Two new reactors in Karachi should convince everyone that international embargoes and restrictions and Indian lobbying won’t stop us.”
He added that after Karachi, the government has now initiated the process for building nuclear plants at two other sites.
However, at a seminar last week on the impact of K-2 and K-3 along the coastal areas, Pakistani experts, Dr Hoodbhoy and Dr AH Nayyar, opposed the construction of these power plants citing issues of safety, design and cost.
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