KARACHI - South Asian nuclear powers should spend the budgets on social sectors for provision of safe drinking water, education and health care facilities instead of spending huge chunks of the budget for safeguarding their nuclear weapons.

These views were expressed by the civil society activists, writers, columnists, intellectuals, scientists and doctors at the launching ceremony of an Urdu book “Taqat Ka Saraab” – Nuclear Bomb in South Asia: Technical Analyses on Benefits and Hazards, edited and compiled by senior physicist Dr. Abdul Hameed (A.H) Nayyar jointly organised by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at PMA House here on Sunday.

“The only attraction of setting up nuclear power plants is the huge amounts of kickbacks, which the government functionaries receive for installing a nuclear power plant in the country,” commented Dr. Tipu Sultan of Pakistan Medical Association at the ceremony.

The other speakers at the book launching ceremony were Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Director of Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi; Muhammad Ali Shah, Chairperson of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF); Karamat Ali, Chief Executive, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER); Dr. Haroon Ahmed, President of Forum for Secular Pakistan; senior columnist Muqtida Khan Mansoor; columnist and author Ms. Zahida Hina; senior journalist Ghazi Salahuddin.

The author Dr. A. H. Nayyar said that the nuclear subject is kept very secret and no information regarding it is shared with the people.

In case of an accident in nuclear power plant, there is a danger of spread of radiation in the population, which may cause heavy destruction of life and property, he said.

“If you are asked that Civil Defence institutions would save you in case of any nuclear explosion, please don’t accept that argument,” he remarked.

He said that there are many problems in command and control system of the nuclear weapons.

Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Director of Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi said that when India tested nuclear weapons in 1998 many meetings were held in Karachi in which the speakers urged the Pakistan government not to follow suit, but both government and Opposition were stubborn that Pakistan should also test the nuclear weapons. “After 15 years, we can see we have become more backward.”

He said in India corporate sector has further promoted the weapons race and now Pakistan is also promoting the private media.

Dr. Ahmed expressed concern over the growing extremism in Pakistan.

He said he was part of a Federal level committee for suggesting changes in the curriculum during the era of General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf. But when the committee formulated the recommendations, the then Federal Minister of Education Zubeida Jalal rejected the recommendations after severe criticism of religious and right-based parties.

The “nuclear deterrence is an illusion.”

He underlined the need to create awareness against dangers of using nuclear energy.

Dr. Haroon Ahmed, President of Forum for Secular Pakistan appreciated the name of the book “Taqat Ka Sarab” and said that nuclear energy is really an illusion and for that purpose people should be educated.

“We don’t have effective institutions to cater to the dangers in case of any nuclear accident.” He pointed out that radiation can affect the entire generation and its effects are longer lasting.

Senior columnist Muqtida Khan Mansoor said that the humanity had seen the first destruction of humanity during the World War–II when the US dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Japan. The radiation not only killed hundreds of thousands people, but crippled millions of other people in the area, he said. Effects of the nuclear destruction and radiation can even be sensed in the atmosphere of these two cities, he added.

Columnist and author Ms. Zahida Hina said the slogan by head of a political party of Pakistan “Qital Fi Sabillillah” is quite dangerous.

She pointed out that the people in South Asia are facing many social problems because of shortage of water, absence of education and health facilities but huge amount of money is being spent on acquiring deadly weapons like nuclear bombs.

Muhammad Ali Shah, Chairperson of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) said that this world does not need weapons of mass destruction. The bomb or weapons cannot be for the peace, he said.

About 1.6 to 2.4 trillion dollar trading of weapons is happening in the world every year, he added.

“The nuclear bomb itself is unsafe and we need millions of dollars to keep these bombs safe.”

After the World War–II the world powers decided to convert the nuclear technology into nuclear power, he said.

Developing countries like Pakistan and India are facing energy crisis, so they are inclined to use atomic power for power generation,he said.

Instead of using environment friendly and peoples-friendly solution of power the governments are emphasizing to set up nuclear power plants, he stated.

He feared that fish stocks would be destroyed when new nuclear power plants will be set up along Karachi coast. At Chashma, about three new power plants are being established in Punjab along the River Indus, which would destroy the water of the river and its harms would be for the entire country, he said.

He said that over 40 million litres of water per day is required for running a power plant.

In case of an accident, the entire Karachi may be destroyed, he stated.

Karamat Ali of PILER said that nuclear reactors are the most dangerous technologies. Many countries like Germany are phasing out their nuclear power projects, but the developing countries like Pakistan are setting up atomic reactors for power generations, he said.

In France a discussion is going on for phasing out the nuclear power plants, he stated.

There is an uncertain situation between India and Pakistan and many times violations of ceasefire are happening, so the nuclear weapons in both the countries are unsafe, he added.

Ali said there is a need to make a united voice against nuclear weapons and power generation reactors, which can pose danger to the humanity. We need to declare a “Nuclear Free South Asia Zone” to keep the region free from the nuclear weapon, he said.