Youm-e-Takbeer: The Day PAEC Made the Nation Proud 

Today is the 26th anniversary of the nuclear blast 

May 28 has a special significance in the life of every Pakistani. On this day, the scientists, engineers and technicians of PAEC achieved the unachievable and delivered what they had promised in the form of five nuclear blasts at Chaghi in Balochistan, making the nation’s defense unconquerable. Besides some known names who contributed in this herculean task through unmatched contributions for the country’s security, there were numerous unsung heroes who worked day and night towards achieving this unbelievable mission by a developing country.

Apart from defense, PAEC is also the torchbearer in ensuring sustainable development for the country in all spheres of life by using nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in line with its ‘Atoms for Peace and Development’ mandate, supports countries in their efforts to reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Many countries use nuclear science and technology to contribute to and meet their development objectives in areas including energy, human health, food production, water management and environmental protection.

Being member of the Board of Governors of the IAEA. Pakistan has been utilizing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes since the inception of PAEC, which has contributed immensely in achieving the SDGs.

PAEC has so far established nineteen (19) Atomic Energy Cancer Hospitals (AECHs) located in all provinces and major cities of the country while the 20thcancer hospital at Muzaffarabad, AJ&K, is under construction. These hospitals are helping the government in catering to the healthcare needs of cancer-affected patients in the country by providing diagnostic and therapeutic facilities. PAEC-managed-cancer hospitals provide diagnostic and therapeutic facilities to patients at subsidized rates by dint of support from Patient Welfare Society (PWS) of the hospitals and Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM).

In the field of international cooperation and promotion of the culture of sharing and learning from fellow scientists’ research, PAEC started conducting annual meetings of researchers and scientists in Pakistan. A brainchild of the Nobel Laureate of Pakistani origin, Dr. Abdul Salam, the idea of holding the annual meeting of topnotch researchers and scientists of the world in Pakistan was adopted by the then Chairman Muneer Ahmed Khan and his successor Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and all successive chairmen of PAEC.

‘International Nathiagali Summer College (INSC) on Physics and Contemporary Needs’ has been organized every year since 1976, mostly at the scenic hill resort of Nathiagali. So far, 7 Nobel laureates and 41000 scientists, out of which 1000 were foreigners, from 72 countries have participated in the annual springs of scientists in Pakistan to exchange valuable knowledge with their local colleagues and science students.

Owing to the untiring efforts of PAEC scientists, engineers, technicians and researchers, Pakistan is proudly an Associate Member of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and scientists from the country are actively participating in various research activities at CERN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Pakistan became Associate Member State of CERN on July 31, 2015, the only Asian country to attain this position at that time. Pakistan ratified the status agreement with CERN on August 26, 2015.

As a responsible nuclear state, a founding member of the IAEA and an emerging player in the field of nuclear power generation, Pakistan takes pride in ensuring impeccable security arrangements at all of its nuclear power plants.

In the use of nuclear energy for generating electricity, PAEC is currently operating six nuclear power plants (NPPs), including Karachi Nuclear Power Plants Unit-2 & Unit-3 commonly known as K-2 and K-3 in Karachi; and C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4 NPPs in Chashma, Mianwali. These plants are collectively producing over 3500 megawatts (MWs) of electricity.

Advantages of nuclear power generated electricity include low per unit cost of generation, all-year-round availability, and no emissions of greenhouse gases, besides being critically important from energy-security point of view.

As a responsible nuclear state, a founding member of the IAEA and an emerging player in the field of nuclear power generation, Pakistan takes pride in ensuring impeccable security arrangements at all of its nuclear power plants. Stringent entry protocols in the form of controlled access of personnel and retina identification for entry at the power plants are some of the measures that help ensure authorized access only.

As per international best practices in the field of nuclear power, Emergency Preparedness Measures are well in place for timely intervention at these power plants. The safety and security are the two highlights of nuclear power plants operating in the country.

PAEC has taken the lead in utilizing nuclear technology to improve productivity of agriculture sector through the introduction of new crop varieties, pest control technologies, plant nutrition, water management, animal health and productivity and food decontamination and preservation.

Four PAEC agriculture research centers have been established in the three provinces of Pakistan having a major share of the cultivatable land in the country. Nuclear Institute of Agriculture (NIA) in Tando Jam, established in 1962 was the first such institute followed by Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), in Faisalabad; Nuclear Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), in Peshawar and National Institute for Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), in Faisalabad.

So far, these PAEC-run agriculture centers have developed and evolved more than one hundred and fifty (150) crop varieties for Pakistan. For utilization of marginal lands, PAEC has developed technology for the utilization of salt-affected lands and this technology is being provided not only to the local farmers but also at international level.

These centers also have a fair share in human resource development through training courses, workshops and internships. These courses equally benefit researchers, students and academia from various research organizations and universities. NIAB and NIBGE in Faisalabad are also affiliated with Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) – the leading university of the country, for award of MPhil and PhD degrees in Biology and Biotechnology.

Taking a big step towards agriculture industrialization and commercialization, PAEC recently organized a huddle of agriculture scientists, agriculturists and business leaders in the field of agriculture. The Agriculture symposium cum exhibition was organized at NIAB and NIBGE institutes in Faisalabad.

Titled “Cultivate Innovation to Harvest Business Growth”, the two-day event was sponsored by Support Industries and Technologies (SITECH), in line with Government’s Green Pakistan Initiative. Its ultimate aim was to commercialize and popularize the latest technical advancements in the field of agriculture and biotechnology.

Leading agricultural experts and researchers from seed companies, progressive farmers, corporate sectors, researchers, academia from agri and biotech fields and representatives from government, Fongrow Coy and FFC also participated. The participants appreciated the event and they hoped that organizers will provide more such opportunities of establishing linkages among agricultural researchers, farmers and allied departments as well as businesses, in future.

Although PAEC is striving to prove a catalyst in all key areas of national development, May 28 will always remain a feather in its cap a sit made Pakistanis hold their heads high with pride.

Muhammad Aftab Alam
Muhammad Aftab Alam
The writer is a PR practitioner. He can be reached at [email protected]

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