Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday launched the 1200-megawatt nuclear power plant being built with China’s assistance in Punjab province which is seen as a sign of growing strategic cooperation between the two all-weather allies.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif had inked an agreement with China worth a whopping $3.5 billion under which Beijing would build the Chashma-V nuclear plant at Chashma in the Mianwali district of Punjab.
He had termed the nuclear power plant agreement signing as a token of increasing economic cooperation between Pakistan and China and vowed to complete the project without any delay.
“The Chashma-5 nuclear energy project, which is by itself a huge milestone, a huge success story and a wonderful symbol of cooperation between two great friends,” Mr. Sharif said.
“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,” he said.
He said that the new power plant would be completed in the next seven to eight years, noting 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.
The premier also 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.” Chashma power plants are considered a key in the production of cheap nuclear power. The installed capacity of the existing four power plants is 1,330 megawatts, according to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
Two other nuclear power plants are also operational in Pakistan. Karachi Nuclear Power Plants (KANUPP 2 & 3) have a capacity of 2,290.
The prime minister on the occasion 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.
Mr. Sharif recalled that China rolled over more than $5 billion back to Pakistan in the past four months. “This is not a small contribution by a great friend at a time which was one of the most difficult times Pakistan was facing,” he said.
Pakistan received $1.2 billion from the IMF on Thursday following approval by the global lender’s executive board to provide $3 billion to the debt-trapped nation over a period of nine months.
Pakistan’s economy has been in a free fall mode for the last many years, bringing unbridled pressure on the poor masses in the form of unchecked inflation and making it almost impossible for a vast number of people to make ends meet.