Director General Arms Control and Disarmament at the Foreign Office Kamran Akhtar on Thursday emphasised on changing the narrative about Pakistan’s nuclear programme from that of deterrence to one for peaceful uses. He was speaking at a daylong conference on ‘Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology – Pakistan’s Achievements’, which had been organised by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) – an Islamabad based think tank specialising in strategic stability issues’. The seminar had been held to showcase the progress made by Pakistan towards using nuclear technology for civilian purposes and analysing the current status of the programme with a view to charting future course of action. The seminar was attended by diplomats, think thank representatives, members of academia, retired and serving government officers and media. Akhtar said that the civilian programme constituted a major part of the nuclear programme and as such needed to be highlighted. Whether it’s in energy, medicine, or agriculture sectors, or for dealing with climate change, the civilian programme, he said, is contributing to the welfare of people and towards the attainment of sustainable development goals. The senior foreign ministry official, while talking about commerce side of the civilian programme, said that Pakistan should enhance its supply capacity and indigenise and commercialise technology. Former Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva Amb Zamir Akram touched upon the limitations facing the civilian nuclear programme particularly paucity of funds and the discrimination against Pakistan by the Western powers in allowing access to nuclear technology. He said that the way forward was in developing self-sufficiency and expanding cooperation with China. “We need not compromise on our nuclear programme whether it is civilian or the weapons programme to get a certificate that we are a responsible nuclear state,” Mr Akram emphasised. Former Secretary Defense Production Lt Gen (R) Syed Muhammad Owais, who was the chief guest at the inaugural session, while praising the progress made by the country towards using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes said it was a matter of national pride, which also testified to the country’s “unhindered focus, commitment and tenacity in achieving self-sufficiency”. He also recalled the challenges Pakistan faced in this journey. He reminded that despite having a strong case for membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group certain vested interests on the geo-political scene were blocking it. He said Foreign Office should continue with its efforts for securing entry in NSG. President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema, in his opening remarks, said Pakistan has been an active player in the global nuclear order promoting non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament. Dr Cheema observed that Pakistan’s elaborate programme for harnessing peaceful uses of nuclear energy includes power plants, research reactors, agriculture and biotechnology research centres, medical centres, and industrial applications. He said that a strong civil programme was essential for advancing economic development plans. He also mentioned Pakistan’s strong credentials with respect to IAEA safeguards implementation at its facilities, the presence of a robust regulatory mechanism and a commitment to pursuing and expanding its civilian programme.