It is rather unfortunate that our scientists, who provide the stamina to the elements of national power, in the otherwise very hostile regional environment, are made controversial through a systematic propaganda campaign. Hence, detracting them from their noble mission. Dr A.Q. Khan, despite all odds and obstacles, which he had to face in the arduous task of uranium enrichment, ultimately succeeded in his mission to provide the much needed nuclear deterrence against India. He and his dedicated team ultimately transformed Pakistan into a nuclear-armed state. Although it was a giant step forward, for which the nation shall remain indebted to him, yet the reward that Dr Khan got in return were a number of allegations of nuclear proliferation. In spite of the fact that the nuclear black market had already existed under the global nuclear underworld, through which one could easily purchase all the technology required to make a bomb. The Pakistani scientist, who was mandated by the government, only took advantage of the nuclear underworld, because all other legitimate avenues for procurement were closed for Pakistan. When Pakistan detonated the six bombs in reply to Indias five 'explosions and demonstrated its extraordinary power preponderance, the world at large was shocked. But still Dr Khan had to endure the humiliation. Pakistans nuclear status was considered a direct threat to India and Israels interests. It is in its possession that deterrence works and is also a double blessing. Besides security, it provides the opportunity of meeting the increasing need for nuclear power generation. We, therefore, need to put up at least 20 to 25 nuclear power plants in the next 10 to 15 years to meet at least 30 percent of our national energy needs. It is a fact that nuclear energy is relatively cheaper to produce, besides being eco-friendly. Our power generation policy has been mostly lopsided. Instead of making investments in hydropower generation, successive governments have opted for thermal power that is extremely expensive, as it depends on oil imports. Thus, the electricity produced from this is very costly and has led to heavy 'circular debt liabilities. So thermal power is no option for Pakistan and it must be dispensed with gradually. At the same time, more efforts should be made to meet our power requirements by building dams and water reservoirs, which are so far the very best and cheap, as well as tested means of power generation. There may be objections to Kalabagh Dam; however, there are a number of other sites where hydel power projects can be constructed, which could have definitely saved the country from the catastrophic floods that resulted in the loss of human lives, infrastructure, crops and livestock. Therefore, we cannot afford to ignore the hydropower requirements, except at our own peril. More importantly, we must pool our resources to build hydel power projects, in order to meet our national energy needs, to a minimum of 25 to 30 percent in the next 10 to 15 years time. By Allahs blessings, we have huge reservoirs of coal that could effectively be harnessed to meet our energy needs. Under the able leadership of Dr Samar Mubarakmand, a team of scientists was constituted as the Thar Coal Governing Body, to supervise the production of power through the new technology of burning underground coal (UGC). On experimental basis, 100MW of electricity is in production and another 1,000MW of electricity could be made available within a span of three years. According to Dr Samar, by using this technology it is estimated that up to 50,000 MW of electricity can be produced, which will be free from environmental hazards and would meet the requirements of the country for decades. Unfortunately, the lobbies that do not want this project to come into operation have already started campaigning against it. The World Bank, at the behest of some foreign powers, has backed out from funding the project, while it has financed South Africa and other countries for undertaking similar projects. We should realise that the Thar Coal Project promises great opportunity for Pakistan. The project must be protected at all costs and developed, despite opposition. The cost of the electricity produced through coal would progressively become low, perhaps within the reach of the common man. Initially, it may cost about Rs 3.9 per unit, as calculated by the Sindh government. The federal government, therefore, must come forward to fund this project, and try to meet much of our national energy needs through this source. (Compare the cost of production of Rs 3.9 per unit of coal, with the cost of Rs 7.9 of the thermal IPPs and Rs 11.9 of the rental thermal power plants.) If the government cannot provide the funds, it should leave it open for the Pakistanis to find the funds for this project. This is much too good a project to be left at the mercy of red-tapism of the Establishment. It is, indeed, a very myopic policy of the government, which has already paid over Rs 220 billion for commissioning of nine rental power plants with a combined capacity of 1206MW electricity. Unluckily, most of them are non-operational yet. Neither thermal power projects, nor rental power plants are in the national interest, so they must be phased out as soon as possible. For this, national will must exist to fully utilise the hydel, nuclear and coal power potentials that Allah Almighty has bestowed on us in abundance Together with nuclear, hydro and coal power, the country would be self-sufficient in meeting the energy needs for a long time. It is no surprise for anyone that Pakistan possesses the single largest uranium deposit of about 20 percent of the world deposits. And while we mobilise our energies for the production of hydel, coal and nuclear energy, let us task Dr Khan to harness the solar and wind energies, and acquire the technology to reduce our dependence on others. I am sure he will deliver, not disappoint the nation. He is our asset, as much as are the Gods gifts of wind and the sun, illuminating our land and the skies. Certainly, people-oriented national projects would be of immense help for energy through diverse sources. One only wishes that our policymakers would have a sense of national commitment, to steer the country towards self-sufficiency and overcome the chronic shortages of energy. That is precisely the reason to have a National Advisory Body comprising scientists, experts in security and national development. India and many other countries have one such body, which caters to their requirements, while ours is an adhoc-oriented arrangement, where decisions are taken only to be reversed within days. We cannot afford to go on like this. We desperately need the formation of the National Advisory Body, under the Prime Minister, working on permanent basis, and to provide policy inputs for decision makers on all matters of importance. Only, in this manner, our national security interests can be fully safeguarded and we must not bend against pressures from within or without. According to Franklin Roosevelt: We would rather die on our feet than live on our knees. The writer is former COAS, Pakistan. Email: