Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday broke ground on the 1,200 MW Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Unit 5 (C-5) in Mianwali, which is likely to be completed in seven to eight years at a cost of around $3.48 billion.
On June 30, 2023, the prime minister witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the C-5 project between China National Nuclear Corporation Overseas Ltd (CNOS) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).
Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony at Chashma, the prime minister said the project should be completed before the given schedule keeping in mind the country's requirements for clean and cheap energy sources.
Terming it a huge milestone and a symbol of cooperation between the two great friends — China and Pakistan — Shehbaz said the project would help the country promote clean, efficient and comparatively cheaper energy.
He said after a pause of many years, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was going again in full swing. He gave the credit of concluding the agreement of C-5 to the coalition government and the SPD for their hard efforts.
"Our detractors had been fabricating rumours all around that Pakistan was going to default on its sovereign commitments but we crossed all turbulent waters in just 15 months," he added.
However, he said the risk of potential default had been completely averted through the team effort of the government.
The prime minister said a couple of days ago, there was an approval of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, and within 48 hours, around $4.5 billion were transferred by Pakistan's brotherly countries Saudi Arabia and UAE, besides another $1.2 billion from the IMF.
About four months ago, he said the Chinese government and commercial banks rolled over amounts back to Pakistan to the tune of $5 billion.
He paid his tributes to Chinese President XI Jinping, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for their support in the hour of need.
He informed that due to serious efforts by the coalition government and himself, the Chinese company kept the project cost at the level agreed upon in 2017-18 by the then-PML-N government and did not include the average inflation of around 10% in the project cost.
Further, he said on his request that a discount of Rs30 billion was also given to Pakistan, reflecting a sense of sincerity between the two countries.
Charge D'affaires of the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, Pang Chunxue, said C5 would help Pakistan build low-carbon, clean, and cheap energy, which would also produce local jobs and engage the local industries to contribute to the project.
Chairman of China National Nuclear Cooperation Yu Jianfeng said cooperation between Pakistan and China in nuclear energy had become an integral part of the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.
He said the C5 project was a significant milestone in the HPR 1,000 development global journey. Hualong One (HPR 1000) is the 3rd-generation nuclear power brand to which China has exclusive intellectual property rights.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, and Chairman PAEC Dr Raja Ali Raza were also present on the occasion.