Opportunities lost

Pakistan’s acquisition of military nuclear technology was a gigantic step in the right direction whereas the failure to develop nuclear power generation simultaneously was an equally gigantic neglect. Especially so when the base for this had been laid as far back as 1971 when KANUPP was made operational. Thereafter, efforts at developing nuclear power generation ought to have moved parallel to the military-oriented nuclear programme, but this did not happen. Chashma Unit 1 got operational in 2000 and Chashma 2 will get on the national electricity grid in 2011. By then they will not be able to account for even two percent of the nation’s electricity requirement.

Canada would never have facilitated the commissioning of KANUPP at Karachi if the world had not let it do so. Furthermore, during Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s tenure as prime minister, France had agreed to set up nuclear power plants in Pakistan. That this French offer did not materialise was because of our adverse political situation, with Zia-ul-Haq military coup removing Mr Bhutto from power.

Hope was again revived in February 1989, three months into Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s first government when President Francois Mitterrand of France flew into Islamabad to hold a joint press conference with her in order to announce a renewal of the French offer made to her father regarding the nuclear power plants. President Mitterrand did this despite international pressures not to go into such a venture with Pakistan. This was another opportunity lost. By the middle of 1989 it had become clear that Ms Bhutto’s government was not going to be allowed to last. The first blow was dealt to her government on Oct 23, 1989, when a conspiratorially generated vote of no-confidence was tabled against her. That she survived that vote is history to which I am a witness as one of her closest confidantes of that time. However, all that political turmoil in Pakistan put the French nuclear power plants offer on hold once again.

Had nuclear power generation been pursued and acquired in the 70s and 80s Pakistan would today have had a far better economy and the industry would have been booming with lots of foreign investment coming in and millions of jobs would have thus been generated. This one action may well have spared Pakistan the horrible situation that we are now going through because of absolute unemployment. Progress, employment and commercial activity always fill up spaces that are otherwise likely to be exploited by negative forces. Pakistan left too much open space for exploitation and is now, as a result, reeling in pain and agony.

The Pakistan of our dreams has not emerged because of many more missed opportunities in other fields of national life too, the prime one being in the field of law and order and its political handling. In May 1974, Balochistan’s insurgency was defeated by the Army. But after over 35 years of having resolved that crisis that province has not really mattered to the political elite of Pakistan and Balochistan. Because the military success of 1974 was not politically consolidated through a general uplift of the province we once again face a turbulent situation there. In 1995-96, after years of lawlessness in Karachi, the absolute writ of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was re-established. Yet, in 2009, this great city is again in the grip of lawlessness. The current situation in the NWFP is the worst that can happen to any country. The very roots of the federation have been jolted. Military operations are in full swing. It is to be seen whether we create yet another missed opportunity after the Army has, hopefully, restored the writ of the State of Pakistan.

Forward planning, foresight, anticipation, brainstorming, talent over cronyism, political and bureaucratic reforms, quality over numbers, technology over old-fashioned attitudes, open and fair job and business opportunities, justice and fair play, revival of the Pakistani spirit, bringing about a young and dynamic leadership to replace the elderly minds that are still stuck in the 70s are aspects that will ensure that we do not miss present day opportunities and those that come up in the foreseeable future. But will we do all this?

Conducting a literature review also informs the student of the influential researchers and hint research groups in the field

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