AQ Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, dies at 85
- Nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as the ""father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb"", passed away after being hospitalised due to COVID-19.
- The Pakistani atomic scientist was hailed as a national hero for transforming his country into the world's first Islamic nuclear power.
- He was however regarded by the West as a dangerous renegade responsible for smuggling technology to rogue states.
- A Q Khan became part of then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s secret plans to acquire nuclear weapons in the 1970s while he was in the Netherlands, where he was working for a uranium enrichment plant.
- He was suspected of stealing centrifuge parts and enrichment know-how at the time.
- Before any action could be taken against him, he returned home in 1976 to join Pakistan’s atomic programme officially.
- Although he is now identified as the man who single-handedly built Pakistan’s bomb, his colleagues at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission disputed his credentials and knowledge as a nuclear physicist.
- In March 2001, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, under pressure from the United States, said he had forced Dr. Khan from his post as the head of the country’s national nuclear laboratory.
- But he remained a scientific adviser to the Musharraf government, and his ability to sell or barter nuclear technology continued.
- On Jan. 31, 2004, Pakistan dismissed Dr. Khan.
- Shortly thereafter it was announced that he had admitted helping the nuclear-weapons programs of Iran, North Korea and Libya.