Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic weapons program, passed away early Sunday morning, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed revealed.
The nuclear scientist, 85, was rushed to a private hospital in Islamabad after his health deteriorated.
Rasheed said that the doctors did everything to save the nuclear scientist’s life but couldn’t do so. Doctors added the scientist passed away after his lungs collapsed.
Dr AQ Khan’s funeral prayers will be held at the Faisal Mosque at 3:30pm. His body has been moved from the hospital to his E-7 residence.
“When he was admitted at the military hospital a few days back, Dr Khan expressed his desire to be laid to rest at the Faisal Mosque,” the interior minister told SAMAA TV.
He also wanted the vice-chancellor of the International Islamic University to lead the funeral prayers. “We are finalising arrangements for that,” Rasheed said.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that the nuclear scientist “will be buried in the Faisal Mosque as per his wishes”.
He will be buried in Faisal Mosque as per his wishes. My condolences & prayers go to his family.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 10, 2021
Earlier, on August 27, the nuclear scientist was moved to the KRL Hospital after he contracted Covid. Last month, according to a report by DAWN, the scientist complained that neither Prime Minister Imran Khan, nor his cabinet members inquired after his health.
Dr AQ Khan was lauded for bringing the nation up to par with arch-rival India in the atomic field and making its defences “impregnable”.
Army, cabinet members to attend funeral prayers
Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed the X Corps, Chairman joint chief of army staff, and leaders of the navy and airforce to ensure their presence at Dr AQ Khan’s funeral, the federal interior minister said in a press conference later in the day.
Sheikh Rasheed said that, due to security reasons, it can’t be revealed if the PM will attend the prayers.
The police, Rangers, and FC personnel have been handed over the responsibility of the security.
“Today, a great man died. He was a great scientist. He served this country with emotion, dignity, respect, and hard work. The entire nation salutes him and he’s going to be buried will high respects today [Sunday] at 3:30pm, Faisal Mosque,” the minister added.
Condolences pour in
Immediately after the news broke out, condolences started pouring in. Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that Dr AQ Khan’s critical contribution in making Pakistan a nuclear weapon state provided the country security against an “aggressive much larger nuclear neighbour”.
“For the people of Pakistan, he was a national icon,” the premier added.
President Arif Alvi said he had personally known the scientist since 1982. “He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard,” he tweeted.
انا للّٰہ وانا الیہ راجعون
Deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. Had known him personally since 1982.
He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard. May Allah bless him.
— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) October 10, 2021
Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar tweeted: “Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan played a key role in making Pakistan invincible. May Allah grant him a high position in Paradise.”
Sad to learn of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s death. He was a pioneer of Pakistan’s nuclear program and contributed immensely to our security. May his soul RIP
— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) October 10, 2021
Saddened to hear the sad demise of the ace nuclear scientist of Pakistan.
Your name will always enlightened in the history of Pakistan.
May Allah Almighty bless him with the highest rank in jannah
— Mushtaq Ghani (@MushtaqGhaniPTI) October 10, 2021
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said he was “deeply grieved” over the scientist’s death and called it a “great loss”.
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
Deeply grieved at the sad demise of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. Great loss! Pakistan will forever honor his services to the nation! Nation is heavily indebted to him for his contributions in enhancing our defence capabilities.
— Pervez Khattak (@PervezKhattakPK) October 10, 2021
Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed expressed “deep sorrow and grief” over the scientist’s demise. ” May Allah Almighty grant the Mohsin-e-Pakistan the highest position in paradise.”
ڈاکٹر عبدالقدیر خان کے انتقال پرگہرے دکھ اورغم کا اظہار
اللہ تعالی محسن پاکستان کو جنت الفردوس میں اعلی ترین مقام عطا فرمائے۔
— Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (@ShkhRasheed) October 10, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in an interview with SAMAA TV, said that the scientist’s death is a huge blow for Pakistan. “He laid the foundation of the nation’s defence and turned the impossible into reality.”
He reiterated that Dr AQ Khan is Pakistan’s “mohsin”. He was not just an amazing scientist but also a very humble human being, the minister added.
Who is Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan?
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was born on April 1, 1936, in Bhopal of British India. Khan attended the University of Karachi where he completed a BSc in Physics.
He was heavily influenced by the events of 1971, the loss of East Pakistan, and the subsequent test of nuclear explosives by India in 1974, which led him to write to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto expressing his desire to work for Pakistan’s nuclear program.
He joined Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in 1976. Pakistan had already acquired its weapons by the 1980s but detonated in the late 1990s after India conducted its tests.
He founded the Engineering Research Laboratory, or ERL, to develop a uranium-enrichment capability. In 1981 ERL was renamed the Khan Research Laboratory or KRL.
Dr AQ Khan was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz and the Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1989 and 1999 for his outstanding performance in the world of science and technology. But he found himself in the international crosshairs when he was accused of illegally sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya, and North Korea.
The scientist was placed under effective house arrest in the capital Islamabad in 2004 after he admitted running a proliferation network to the three countries.
A court ended his house arrest in February 2009, but his movements were strictly guarded, and he was accompanied by authorities every time he left his home in Islamabad.
With additional information from AFP.