China’s financial offer for construction of two nuclear power plants in Karachi will help revive Pakistan’s dwindling economy that would help in job generation, fast infrastructural growth and mitigate social unrest.
According to an article published here in influential daily Global Times, Pakistan has long been plagued by a severe power shortage and ensuing social unrest. The Pakistani government views nuclear energy development as a favourable long-term power generation plan, as its economy is at a critical growth stage due to prolonged load shedding.
China in late December committed to provide at least $6.5 billion for Pakistan’s construction of a nuclear power plant in Karachi. China National Nuclear Corporation will provide the loan to construct twin nuclear reactors that are scheduled to be completed in 2019. China’s assistance for the nuclear power project in Karachi will also help guarantee its own energy security. In turn, Pakistan’s economic growth will also be helpful to China, the writer argued in his article.
Adjacent to the Persian Gulf, Pakistan serves as a mouth for China to import resources, notably petroleum and natural gas, from Iran and Iraq, said the article based on an interview from Yang Cuibai, professor with the School of Law at Sichuan University.
In February 2013, the China Overseas Port Holding Company took over the operation of the Port of Gwadar, the vicinity of which is home to approximately two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves.
It is no surprise that the Pak-China nuclear power cooperation caused unease in US and India, who have cooperated on nuclear issues for the last several years. But the deal is a win-win situation that helps meet Pakistan’s energy demand and boost economic and social development while strengthening the bilateral ties.
Pakistan heavily depends on hydropower, but water level is subject to variations from time to time, especially in winter. Therefore hydropower is not as reliable as nuclear energy.
From political and diplomatic perspectives, Pakistan serves as a bridgehead for China to further develop friendly ties with West Asian and North African nations as well as regions suited on the Indian Ocean.
A politically stable Pakistan will help ensure the safety of the world’s second largest economy, China, whose interests could otherwise fall victim to the terrorism rampant across West Asia.
Pakistan has a population of nearly 200 million on its small territory and an alarming population growth rate, imposing crushing burden on its already lagging economy.
The whole of Pakistan has an electricity demand of about 16,500 megawatts while the power supply is only 12,000 to 13,000 megawatts.
Poverty, high unemployment rate, violent crime, religious unrest and a wide spectrum of other social issues can partly be attributed to chronic blackouts.
Those living in extreme poverty or who remain unemployed are a potential target of terrorist recruitment. Being properly hooked up to the power grid is a precursor for modern education and employment.
To begin with, there is a huge influx of investment from Chinese enterprises in Pakistan and its neighboring Afghanistan and Iran.
Furthermore, the development of the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road proposed by China will greatly benefit from China’s intimate cooperation with Pakistan as the traditional Silk Road passed through the northern area of the country.