China to back Pak demand for civil nuclear deal at US summit

* Gilani says civil nuclear power generation essential part of energy strategy
* Parliamentary parties to be taken into confidence over national policies

ISLAMABAD: China will back Pakistan at an upcoming nuclear summit in Washington over a number of issues, including Islamabad’s case for a civil-nuclear deal with the US and its efforts to improve nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes, according to sources privy to a special meeting the parliamentary committee on national security.

The committee was assured on Wednesday that Pakistan would actively pursue its case for a civil-nuclear deal with the US during Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s upcoming visit to the US.

The sources said the Pakistani ambassador to China – who participated in preliminary deliberations on the nuclear summit in Washington – briefed the committee on the objectives of the summit and Pakistan’s preparations to positively contribute to the deliberations.

Meanwhile, a press statement after the meetings said Gilani reiterated his government’s commitment to take all parliamentary parties into confidence over all national policies, particularly those on defence, Kashmir and the country’s nuclear programme.

Presiding over the special meeting, the prime minister said Pakistan was aware of its responsibilities as a nuclear state. He said Pakistan had taken effective steps for nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation through “extensive legislative and a regulatory and administrative framework”.

In the capacity of the National Command Authority chairman, Gilani said his government fully accepted the responsibility of nuclear security. He said nuclear power generation offered viable solutions for energy security and addressing the challenge of climate change.

He highlighted that Pakistan had more than 35 years of experience in operating nuclear power plants successfully. He said highly trained manpower and “a well-established foolproof safety-and-security culture fully qualify Pakistan for equal participation in civil nuclear cooperation at the international level, which could help address immediate energy problems and bring greater stability”.

The prime minister said Pakistan was a democratic, progressive and peaceful country. He said socio-economic development hinged on the ability to meet rapidly expanding energy requirements. “We need to explore all options to ensure a reliable energy mix, and civil nuclear power generation is, therefore, an essential part of our national energy security strategy.”

He said the government considered nuclear safety, security and safeguards “vehicles [with the potential] to facilitate international civil nuclear cooperation”.

Gilani said the objectives of nuclear non-proliferation, safety and security could only be served and promoted through a non-discriminatory paradigm for international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Earlier, Lt Gen (r) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, director general of the Strategic Plans Directorate, briefed the parliamentary committee on Pakistan’s nuclear programme and security of nuclear assets. He said Pakistan had “one of the best systems of safety and security” for nuclear assets and technology.

Representatives of all political parties in the parliament committee on national defence praised the prime minister for taking them into confidence ahead of his participation in the important international summit in Washington. They assured him their parties’ complete support, and expressed confidence that he would successfully put across Pakistan’s viewpoint.

The members of the committee also praised the preparations made by Pakistani representatives for the summit. They made proposals on various aspects of the summit, “which were aptly accommodated”, according to the official statement. The special meeting was also attended by General Tariq Majid, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the foreign secretary.


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