Pakistan’s Peaceful Use of Nuclear Technology By Sikandar Azam Khan

Pakistan’s Peaceful Use of Nuclear Technology By Sikandar Azam Khan

Recently, Pakistan commemorated the 26th anniversary of Youm e Takbeer. It is important to discuss the crucial role of Pakistan’s nuclear program in ensuring the national security of the country. Pakistan’s nuclear acquisition capabilities began in the mid-1970s, and the country successfully displayed them in May 1998, shortly after India conducted nuclear tests and declared itself a nuclear weapon state. Apart from its vital role in the security of the country, Pakistan is utilizing nuclear technology for socioeconomic development in the country.

Many nations have prioritised nuclear energy for sustainable development through the IAEA’s ‘Atom for Peace Development’ strategy to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs-2030. Peaceful applications of nuclear technology are an important component of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Pakistan remains dedicated to using the immense potential of nuclear technology for the country’s socioeconomic development and contributing to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has taken significant steps to support the country’s efforts to accomplish the SDGs and ensure sustainable development.

Energy is essential for achieving practically all of the SDGs. Nuclear energy is a clean, dependable, and cost-effective energy source that meets all of the SDG-7 criteria (affordable and clean energy) while contributing to the other goals. Pakistan’s civilian nuclear programme adds substantial value to the country’s energy mix by producing clean and cost-effective electricity. Pakistan has grown its nuclear energy capacity to 3262 MWe (Net)/ 3,530 MWe (Gross), accounting for 12.5% of Pakistan’s total energy production as of March 2022. Pakistan wants to attain 8,000 megawatts of nuclear energy capacity by 2030, immediately accomplish SDG-7, and contribute to the achievement of all sustainable development goals, objectives, and indicators. Furthermore, nuclear power plants provide enormous amounts of clean electricity while occupying small land areas, so directly contributing to SDGs 15 (Life on Land), 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), and 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).

Many nations have prioritised nuclear energy for sustainable development through the IAEA’s Atom for Peace Development strategy.

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges the world is facing today. It has generated various pressing problems such as water scarcity, food shortages, biodiversity loss, and natural disasters. Over the past two decades, Pakistan has been persistently ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries due to climate change. Pakistan has increased the capacity of indigenously generated nuclear energy to achieve SDG-13 (climate action). Moreover, it is assisting Pakistan in achieving SDG-1, which aims to end poverty for all, and SDG-2, which aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. After harvesting, insects, bacteria, and rodents cause about 25-30% loss of food production, thus creating a food deficiency. Pakistan`s agricultural sector is a significant contributor to the country’s exports, as it accounts for 80% of the country`s total export earnings.

Pakistan is embracing nuclear technology to boost agricultural efficiency and output. Nuclear technologies have developed crop cultivars that are stress-tolerant and climate-resilient. Furthermore, nuclear technology is useful in pest control, plant nutrition, water management, productivity, and food decontamination and preservation. Furthermore, attempts to educate farmers and equip them with plant materials and technology to prevent water loss in water-scarce locations would help SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation).

Pakistan is also striving to achieve SDG-3 (excellent health and well-being) and reduce the country’s illness burden. Cancer has become an increasingly widespread illness in Pakistan. Breast cancer is becoming more common in Pakistan, which has the highest incidence in the region. Pakistan has one of the world’s highest breast cancer rates. Cancer therapy relies heavily on nuclear technologies. Studies have indicated that it is quite successful in the early stages of breast cancer therapy. PAEC has developed 19 Atomic Energy Cancer Hospitals (AECH) where over 700,000 cancer patients are treated each year, accounting for about 80% of all cancer patients in Pakistan, according to the IAEA’s slogan, “Cancer Care for All.”

The AECHs provide a substantial contribution to attaining SDG-3 (excellent health and well-being) by providing patients with cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment services, either for free or at a reduced cost. Furthermore, AECHs are aiming to raise awareness about cancer and the need for early detection and treatment. Pakistan should extend its use of nuclear technology in medical and cancer therapy, which has become a more common and concerning disease.

Nuclear technology is also helping the country to enhance the quality of education and gender equality. Science and technology institutes contribute to training and education, helping to achieve SDG 4 (excellent education). In addition, the PAEC is launching projects to encourage young women to seek jobs in science and technology to prevent prejudice, thus contributing to the country’s efforts to promote gender equality and achieve SDG 5.

Pakistan’s safe and effective use of nuclear technology is a more sustainable option for putting the country on the path to progress and prosperity. Pakistan’s peaceful use of nuclear technology has a substantial impact on the country’s socioeconomic progress.

The writer is currently working as a Research Fellow at Balochistan Think Tank Network and tweets @Sikandarzam

Pakistan’s Peaceful Use of Nuclear Technology By Sikandar Azam Khan


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