Abdul Qadeer Khan, Father of Pakistan’s Nuclear Program, Dies at 85 !!
Abdul Qadeer Khan, a controversial figure known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, died Sunday of COVID-19 following a lengthy illness, his family said. He was 85.
Khan, who launched Pakistan on the path to becoming a nuclear weapons power in the early 1970s, died in a hospital in the capital Islamabad, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said.Thousands of people attended a state funeral at the massive white-marble Faisal Mosque in the capital. His body was carried by an honour guard and military and political dignitaries offered funeral prayers.
“He was loved by our nation because of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state,” the prime minister tweeted.
Known as AQ Khan, the scientist was instrumental in setting up Pakistan’s first nuclear enrichment plant at Kahuta near Islamabad.
By 1998, the country had conducted its first nuclear tests. Coming shortly after similar tests by India, Dr Khan’s work helped seal Pakistan’s place as the world’s seventh nuclear power and sparked national jubilation.But he was arrested in 2004 for illegally sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea.The revelations that he had passed on nuclear secrets to other countries shocked Pakistan.In a televised address, Dr Khan offered his “deepest regrets and unqualified apologies”. Dr Khan was pardoned by Pakistan’s then-president, Pervez Musharraf, but he was held under house arrest until 2009.The leniency of his treatment angered many in the West, where he has been dubbed “the greatest nuclear proliferator of all time”.But in Pakistan he remained a symbol of pride for his role in boosting its national security. “He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence and a grateful nation will never forget his services,” President Arif Alvi said. Khan’s health condition started deteriorating on Saturday night, after which he was rushed to the Khan Research Laboratories Hospital in Islamabad, according to his family members, Xinhua news agency reported.
Earlier in August, the nuclear scientist was admitted to the same hospital after testing positive for Covid-19. He had been moved back home after being successfully treated for the coronavirus disease, according to government officials. In the United States, Khan was best known for selling nuclear technology to nations such as North Korea and Iran. In 2004, at the urging of the US, Pakistani authorities placed Khan under house arrest. The US State Department said that year that Khan had run an “extensive international network for the proliferation of nuclear equipment and know-how that provided ‘one stop shopping’ for countries seeking to develop nuclear weapons.”