As part of his government’s efforts to generate more clean energy in the nation, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif has launched the construction of a 1,200-megawatt Chinese-designed nuclear energy plant.
The project will be completed at a cost of $3.5 billion.
The groundbreaking ceremony, held on Friday, July 14, 2023, comes less than a month after Pakistan signed an agreement with China’s National Nuclear Corporation Overseas in the capital, Islamabad, to construct a Hualong One reactor; a third-generation nuclear reactor which is considered safer because of the latest security features.
Pakistan and China are longtime allies. Pakistan’s relations with Beijing are so close that its leadership calls China their “Iron Brother.”
China is also building roads, bridges, power plants, and railways to link its far west with the Chinese-built port of Gwadar on the Indian Ocean.
The nuclear power plant known as Chashma-5 will be constructed at a site along the left embankment of the fast-flowing Indus River in Mianwali, a district in the eastern Punjab province.
The site is already home to four Chinese-supplied nuclear power plants that were built in recent decades.
Chashma power plants are considered a key in the production of cheap nuclear power.
According to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, the installed capacity of the existing four power plants is 1,330 megawatts.
Two other nuclear power plants are also operational in Pakistan. Karachi Nuclear Power Plants (KANUPP 2 & 3) have a capacity of 2,290.
In televised remarks at a gathering of Pakistani and Chinese officials in Mianwali, Sharif averred that the Chashma-5 nuclear energy project by itself was a “huge milestone, a huge success story, and a wonderful symbol of the cooperation between two great friends.”
“This mutual cooperation to promote clean, efficient and comparatively cheaper energy is a gift of friendship between the two countries and a model for other countries to emulate.”Shehbaz Sharif
Also, Sharif disclosed that the new power plant would be completed in the next seven to eight years, noting that it would be a great favour to the people of Pakistan as the industrial and agriculture sectors consistently stress the need for cheaper and more efficient energy.
Sharif Thanks China For Its Support
Furthermore, The Pakistani Premier expressed his gratitude to China for its longstanding support saying, “Unless we mention the role of our great and most trusted friend China, the story will remain incomplete.”
Sharif stated that his country will never forget the Chinese financial assistance that was given to his country when it faced a risk of default.
It was a “very valuable contribution at a very difficult time, and the nation will never forget it,” he said.
In recent months, China gave $5 billion in loans to Pakistan to help it unlock a bailout from the International Monetary Fund to tackle a serious economic crisis. The IMF approved a $3-billion bailout Wednesday, after keeping it on hold since December.
Sharif also spoke about the deal with the International Monetary Fund which averted the threat of default and highlighted the role of China in helping Pakistan in tackling the economic difficulties.
“The risk of potential default has been completely averted through team efforts – untiring efforts – from all the components of the government of Pakistan and all our institutions,” he said.
Sharif, whose term as Prime Minister ends in August, declared that Pakistan is no longer at risk of a default.