Pakistan and China on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build a new unit of the 1,200 MW Chashma-5 (C-5) nuclear power project.
Wang Yongge, president of the China National Nuclear Corporation Overseas Ltd (CNOS) and Muhammad Saeedur Rehman from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) signed the agreement for unit 5 of the power plant.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was also present on the occasion alongside Chinese Charge d’ Affaires Pang Chunxue.
“It is a great occasion and a great moment between two great friends, China and Pakistan,” the premier said while addressing the ceremony, adding that the power project was a “great step forward” for economic cooperation between the two countries.
The premier said that he had inaugurated the K-3 nuclear power project in Karachi a few months ago and today an agreement had been signed for the C-5 project.
“Hopefully, we will kickstart it without further delay,” he said. He noted that investment from China, to the tune of $4.8 billion, had sent a message “loud and clear” that Pakistan was a place where Chinese companies and investors continued to show their trust.
“Our friendship is higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the deepest ocean, sweeter than sugar and honey, and stronger than iron and steel,” he said, adding that the Chinese president had described the relationship between the two sides as one of “iron brothers”.
He said that Pakistan had met all the terms and conditions of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) ninth review, yet the process faced “inordinate delay”.
“We thought this would be done two months ago, three months ago but there has been inordinate delay … China, once again, came to our help and rescue. This is friendship. A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
He said that apart from China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, had also been helping Pakistan.
“But at this point and time, at this juncture, Chinese financial support has been outstanding,” he said, adding that was at a loss of words to express his gratitude.
“We are deeply obliged to President Xi Jinping, to the Chinese leadership and to the Chinese finance minister,” he said, as he also recognised the efforts of FInance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team.
PM Shehbaz said during last few months, China had also renewed commercial and sovereign loans which reflected the unparalleled friendship between the two countries.
Later, the premier tweeted that the addendum’s signing was a “major step forward” towards the project’s construction.
“This project is part of our energy security plan to diversify the energy mix with a focus on ensuring the provision of cheap electricity to the industry and relief to the common man.
“Can’t thank Chinese leadership enough for their continued trust in Pakistan and the prosperous future of our people,” he tweeted.
The prime minister said the vital project would add a “new facet” to the “multilayered cooperative strategic partnership” between Pakistan and China.
Additional input from APP