ISLAMABAD: Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered in Pakistan as the father of its atomic bomb was buried in Islamabad after his funeral prayers were held at the capital’s iconic Faisal Mosque on Sunday. Dr. Khan died at the age of 85 early on Sunday, he was born on Ist April 1936 in Bhopal, India. His family migrated to Pakistan in 1951.
It was a tragedy in his life that in January 2004, he was subjected to a debriefing by the government of then military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf over evidence of nuclear proliferation handed to Pakistan by the United States.
Dr. Khan was pardoned but placed under house arrest in 2004 after the scientist confessed on television to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He was freed in 2009.
According to Dr. Khan himself, Gen Musharraf was determined to hand over Dr. Khan to the United States on allegations of nuclear prefoliation. But the then Prime Minister Mir Zafarulllah Khan Jamal refused to sign the documents and allowing Dr. Khan to hand over to US authorities. Later on, the idea was dropped on excusing by the scientist.
After Musharraf stepped down and a new government came to power in Pakistan in 2008, Khan gave a series of media interviews in which he recanted his 2004 confession, saying he only took the blame in return for assurances from Musharraf.
Dr. Khan had been admitted at a local hospital where his health deteriorated early on Sunday, state-run Radio Pakistan said.
Musharraf was determined to handover
Dr A.Q. Khan to US in January 2004
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan played an important role in making Pakistan a nuclear power. His services for defense of the country will be remembered for a long time.
Last month, Dr Khan was hospitalized with COVID-19 but was discharged and sent home. He has remained in poor health on and off for years.
Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998, weeks after arch-rival India conducted similar tests. From 1961, he studied material science at the Technical University in West Berlin before moving to Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in 1965. In 1967, Khan got an engineer’s degree in Materials technology and joined the doctoral program in metallurgical engineering at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.
After learning of India’s ‘Smiling Buddha’ nuclear test in 1974, Khan joined Pakistan’s clandestine efforts to develop atomic weapons when he founded the Khan Research Laboratories in 1976. He is survived by his widow Henny Qadeer Khan and daughters Dina Khan and Ayesha Khan.
His funeral prayer was offered at Faisal Mosque, which was attended by Acting President of Pakistan Sadiq Sanjrani, federal ministers, parliamentarians, civil and military officers and a large number of general public. Dr Abdul Qadir was admitted to a local hospital where he passed away after his deteriorated health. Later, he was laid to rest at the H-8 graveyard here with full state honour.
People were expecting Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend the funeral but were disappointed when he did not attend. President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan have expressed sorrow over the demise of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. In pursuance of announcement by prime minister of Pakistan, state funeral was accorded to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. The national flag of the country also flew at half mast on Sunday.
In their separate messages, they prayed for high ranks of the departed soul and also expressed their condolences with the bereaved family. The President on his twitter handle said Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan helped to develop the nation-saving nuclear deterrence.
The Prime Minister in his tweet message said Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was loved by the nation for his critical contribution in making Pakistan a nuclear weapon state. He said this has provided us security against an aggressive and much larger nuclear neighbour.
The Prime Minister said Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was a national icon for the people of Pakistan.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib, Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and others cabinet members and parliamentarians also expressed grief and sorrow.
Political leaders including PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and President Awami National Party Asfandyar Wali Khan also expressed grief over the sad demise of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan.
In 1960, Dr Khan graduated from the University of Karachi. Later, he pursued his studies abroad, in the West Berlin and then in Netherlands, from where he received a master’s degree in metallurgy in 1967. During 1972, he earned a doctorate in metallurgical engineering from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. Dr Khan was a recipient of Nishan-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz as the highest acknowledgement for his meritorious services to the nation and country.