China has agreed to grant cash- strapped Pakistan USD 6.5 billion for two nuclear power plants being constructed in Karachi as part of efforts to deepen bilateral civil nuclear cooperation. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during a special cabinet meeting held yesterday, said China was providing a concessionary loan for K2 and K3 nuclear power plants having combined generation capacity of 2,117 megawatts. The repayment period of the soft loan will be 10 to 20 years.
Talks with China for more loans for power projects are also underway. The Premier said the government was executing a multi- pronged strategy to end power outages but did not give any time-frame for it. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong had recently said that a number of Chinese companies have a keen interest in energy cooperation with Pakistan and they are willing to participate in water, thermal, solar, wind, civil nuclear power generation projects. China's nuclear trade and cooperation with Pakistan have caused significant concern in India and the West, which believe the new plants will free Pakistan's older reactors to produce uranium for weapons. However, China has said the cooperation helps to ease Pakistan's electricity shortage and is in the interest of local people.