Notables pay tribute to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan

'Father of Pakistan's nuclear program' passes away in Rawapindi

The ‘father of Pakistan’s nuclear program’, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, passed away on Sunday, following which several notables took to Twitter to express their condolences and pay tribute to the renowned physicist.

Dr Khan succumbed to lung failure in Rawalpindi on Sunday at the age of 85. Responsible for developing Pakistan’s venerable nuclear energy program, Dr Khan was given a state funeral at the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. He has been laid to rest at H-8 graveyard.

Several recalled Dr Khan for his contributions in making Pakistan a nuclear state, including Prime Minister Imran Khan. The PM was extremely sorrowful at the ‘national icon’s’ demise and furthered that he had helped Pakistan strengthen itself against a much larger nuclear neighbour, India.

President Dr Arif Alvi also expressed his sadness and said that Dr Khan had played a formidable role in developing ‘nation-saving nuclear deterrence’ for Pakistan.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif regretted Dr Khan’s passing and said that Pakistan had lost a true ‘benefactor’ who helped build the country’s nuclear program.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed his condolences and said that a ‘great patriotic son’ of Pakistan had died.

Punjab Education Minister Muraad Raas said that Dr Khan’s contributions to Pakistan would always be remembered. Raas added that the physicist was one of the ‘pillars of Pakistan’.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) member Rana Sanaullah Khan also paid tribute to Dr Khan and said that he was responsible for making Pakistan ‘invincible’ through nuclear technology.

Cricketer Shoaib Akhtar posted a hand-written note from Dr Khan and remembered how he encouraged him in his career when he played for Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) for many years.

Television host Waqar Zaka also remembered Dr Khan fondly. Zaka said that the scientist had inspired him to encourage the youth to explore new technologies.

While a lot of people focused on celebrating his life, journalist Asad Ali Toor said that the state funeral was just ‘optics’. Toor posted a government notice that said that the national flag would be flown at half-mast in mourning and accompanied it with a contrasting news report in which the nuclear scientist lamented that the PM had not asked about his health.

In September, Dr Khan spoke to a local media outlet and expressed his disappointment that no government official, including the PM himself, had inquired about his flailing health. Dr Khan was diagnosed with Covid-19 in August and his health declined consistently till his demise.

The renowned physicist was born in India and migrated to Pakistan in 1947. In 1976, he founded KRL, which became seminal for uranium enrichment research in the country.

In 2004, Dr Khan was involved in a nuclear proliferation scandal and was accused of revealing sensitive nuclear secrets by former president General Pervaiz Musharraf. Dr Khan admitted to his involvement and was pardoned. He was placed under house arrest, which ended in 2009.

For his contributions, Dr Khan was bestowed the Nishan-i-Imtiaz and has often been referred to as Mohsin-i-Pakistan, which means saviour of Pakistan.