Tribute to Dr Qadeer Khan

Dr Khan should be hailed for his remarkable role in providing a nuclear deterrent and making the defence of the country unassailable

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Our newspaper carried five pieces of news, from the lead story to our flagship black coloured back section, covering the profile, demise, funeral, condolences and tribute to the towering nuclear scientist of our part of the world – Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Five stories yesterday, and by the time of writing this piece on Monday evening, I am not pretty sure how many stories of condolences and tributes I will see in today’s paper. The only piece about which I am certain for today’s edition is an editorial on the late Khan.

But all newspapers have treated the news of a high-profile personality the same way the MinuteMirror has treated it. Dr sahib deserved a huge coverage given the flow of outpouring grief from across the country and all over the world. Dr Khan not only touched the hearts of Pakistan by leading a national mission to make Pakistan a nuclear country after our eastern neighbour unleashed a race for nuclear power back in the 1970s. Many people living in the Muslim countries also became fervent fans of Dr Khan for making the Muslim world nuclear-powered by manufacturing the first-ever ‘Muslim Bomb’. I am unable to digest the idea of draping defence technology with religious colour. Whatever you call the bomb, Dr Khan should be hailed for his remarkable role in providing a nuclear deterrent and making the defence of the country unassailable. This role of him makes Dr sahib ‘Mohsin-i-Pakistan’, a title given and promoted by some media persons.

For the last few years, he had been writing Urdu columns where he would rarely touch science and technology; instead, his focus would be nationalism and religion. This means, at the end of the day, despite his iconic figure status, he was a human, a commoner who wanted to speak his mind to the people.

Over the decades, we saw many ups and downs in Dr Sahib’s life. In the early 1960s, he was accepted by the Berlin University for a PhD programme, which he earlier declined. His supervisor convinced him to give a second thought to his plan instead of going for a teaching job in a Nigerian university. He ended up in the PhD programme. In a chance encounter at a gift card shop in Delft, the Netherlands, Dr Khan met Henny, the love of his life. His career in Pakistan’s nuclear mission also started without any plan. It was 1975 when Dr Khan wrote to then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto about his desire to do nuclear innovation for the country. Bhutto Sahib agreed to his proposal and asked him to return home and meet him.

The rest is history.

Then fell the 2003 filth. Let history decide about the whole affair. We have seen the distortion of facts in the infamous ‘weapons of mass destruction hidden in Iraq’ by the western governments and media.

Now, we hear that Dr Khan has been on the radar of Mossad when led by Shabtai Shavit, but he slipped through their plans. At home, he was mistreated. I wish Dr sahib remained a nuclear scientist and passed on the knowledge and skills he had acquired to generation after generation. The media entrapped him into ‘Mohsin-i-Pakistan’ fame and gathered controversies, both national and international, around him.