Lately there have been some strong demands by the people for creating manufacturing facilities of solar cell in the country. What many don’t know is the fact that these facilities existed in Pakistan in the 1980s. At that time, through the efforts of the then government, and the cooperation and financial grants of the UN, Pakistan established the first independent institute, called the National Institute of Silicon Technology (NIST), in Islamabad. In that institute, for the first time, all the 12 stages of solar cell manufacturing facilities were created. After a short while, Pakistan came in the lime light for commencing the manufacturing of solar cell at a startling price that was 30 percent cheaper than the world market. Most of the starting machinery for this endeavour was successfully acquired and the concerned scientists were only waiting to get the government’s permission to start this venture in Pakistan at the price that was so competitive that even some countries came forward in advance to place orders for the purchase of such solar cells made in Pakistan.
At that time it was quite easy to grab this opportunity of becoming a pioneer of this manufacturing industry. The country had already attained the respectable reputation and the facilities created at the National Institute of Silicon Technology in Pakistan could have helped the country accelerated the manufacturing process. However, the country missed this golden opportunity. The details of this now abandoned project would still be available in the records resting in the high shelves of government offices. These could even now be easily accessed for learning and getting to know more about this project. Since it already has a detailed plan, the government must try again to produce solar cells in the country. And this time, it must show more dedication.
Dr Atique Mufti (Islamabad)