“Every country has a right to use nuclear knowledge

for peaceful purposes”

–General Pervez Musharraf, 2005.

It’s been ten years since Musharraf’s statement, and so many more since Pakistan became a nuclear state. Should we have not better directed research and investment into using nuclear power to provide Pakistan with energy? Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said on Thursday it is seeking cooperation of the international community, including the US, on civil nuclear energy. One wonders why this thought has occurred so late.

There are many things to wonder about the energy crisis in Pakistan. Solar power has not become a viable alternative, and neither has Thar coal. Both these avenues are less expensive than importing Liquified Natural Gas from Qatar. Imported LNG is further mired in controversy, with the government not being able to justify its price schedule. We can guess who gets to gain from importing energy rather than finding indigenous sources that can be sustainable.

With the assistance of the China National Nuclear Corporation, construction began in 1993, and a nuclear plant was connected to the grid in 2000. This was followed by Chasma 2, a third and improved plant, in 2011. The fourth and fifth, Chashma 3 and 4, which are largely financed by China, were expected to be online by 2016. In July 2013, The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) also approved 3.5GWe of new power projects, of which 2200MWe is nuclear. Where is all this potential energy? Do peaceful purposes include “minimal credible deterrence” only?