The nation lost a man who was the face of the clandestine nuclear programme of Pakistan. Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was the pioneer of the nuclear programme, which he started back in the 70s at the behest of then visionary prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It was with his efforts that Pakistan was able to create the weapon and regain its strength in the region after India’s nuclear tests in 1974. Pakistan conducted its first nuclear test in 1998 and this would not have been possible had it not been for the efforts, led by Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The Pakistani nuclear physicist also known as “father of Pakistan’s atomic weapons program” brought about innovation and helped develop the technology which was used to create Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Dr Khan worked in a clandestine project with many of Pakistan’s rulers. He was first discovered and recruited by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and he kept on working on the nuclear programme under the successive governments.
The late Dr Khan faced opposition while he was working with other notable physicists on the nuclear programme but he stuck to his idea and finally was able to use that technology while working on the nuclear weapons for Pakistan. He was also dubbed as a showman by President Zia, yet he remained steadfast in his quest for developing the weapon for his beloved nation and he did despite all the opposition and hurdles.
Although Dr Khan is widely known for his contributions to the nuclear programme, he is also known for being involved in international nuclear controversies. He was reprimanded by his state’s government on more than one occasion and by other states as well. During the Zia administration, he revealed that the government was indeed working on the nuclear programme when this information was to be kept hidden from international eyes and therefore, he was made to retract his statement. Again during the PPP government a similar incident occurred. The nuclear physicist was also accused of supplying sensitive information and technology to Iran and Libya which helped in kickstarting their nuclear programmes. This was, of course, unacceptable to the world leaders. Khan was later dismissed from his role as the adviser on science and technology in the Musharraf administration. The nuclear physicist accepted that he was running a proliferation ring but later denied it, saying that he was made to say that by the then government.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was made a controversial figure in the later years of his life, however, he will be remembered for his great service to Pakistan for the development of nuclear weapons.