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Director General Arms Control and Disarmament Division (ACDIS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kamran Akhtar on Thursday emphasized that Pakistan's nuclear policy of deterrence needs to be shifted to peaceful usage of nuclear technology.

Speaking at a conference on 'Peaceful Use of Nuclear Technology - Pakistan's Achievements,' organized by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Akhtar pointed out that the intent of Pakistan's nuclear programme has always been peaceful. After 1974, Pakistan started thinking of developing a nuclear capability for self-defense, he added.

"Even after 1974, Pakistan's efforts are well documented to keep South Asia free of the nuclear weapons," he said, adding it was never a plan to develop a nuclear programme for military purposes.

He asserted that after developing the nuclear capability, Pakistan had fully recognised its responsibility as a responsible nuclear state, adding, "We also want to fully utilise our potential for peaceful use of the nuclear technology."

He said civilian programme constituted a major part of the nuclear programme, adding the peaceful use of Pakistan's nuclear capability needed to be highlighted more.

He asserted whether it was in energy, medicine, agriculture sectors, or for dealing with climate change, the civilian programme was contributing to the welfare of people and towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Pakistan should enhance its supply capacity and indigenize and commercialize the civilian nuclear technology, he said, adding Pakistan should also fully support the comprehensive safeguards.

He said Pakistan's nuclear programme was under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines, adding Pakistan was also working as donor country of the IAEA, supporting many of its projects and also providing technical assistance and expertise to the agency.

Ambassador Zamir Akram (retd), Pakistan's former Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva discussed the limitations facing the civilian nuclear programme particularly paucity of funds and the discrimination against Pakistan by the Western powers in allowing access to nuclear technology.

He said the way forward was in developing self-sufficiency and expanding cooperation with China. "We need not compromise on our nuclear program whether it is civilian or the weapons program to get a certificate that we are a responsible nuclear state," Akram emphasized.

Former Secretary Defense Production, Lt Gen Syed Mohammad Owais (retd), while praising the progress made by the country towards using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes said it is a matter of national pride, which also testifies the country's "unhindered focus, commitment and tenacity in achieving self-sufficiency."

He also recalled the challenges Pakistan faced in that journey. He reminded that despite having a strong case for membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group, certain vested interests on the geopolitical scene are blocking it. He said Foreign Office should continue with its efforts for securing entry in NSG.

President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema, in his opening remarks, said Pakistan had been an active player in the global nuclear order promoting non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.

Dr Cheema observed that Pakistan's elaborate programme for harnessing peaceful uses of nuclear energy includes power plants, research reactors, agriculture and biotechnology research centers, medical centers, and industrial applications. He said a strong civil programme was essential for advancing economic development plans. He also mentioned Pakistan's strong credentials with respect to IAEA safeguards implementation at its facilities, the presence of a robust regulatory mechanism and a commitment to pursuing and expanding its civilian programme.

Director General Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Zafar Ali gave an overview of Pakistan's Strategic Export Control regime.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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