Islamabad: Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is considered the father of his country’s nuclear weapon program, and a self-confessed proliferator, who passed nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea, died due to lung problems on October 10, his family said. He was 85.
Khan was rushed to the Khan Research Laboratories Hospital in Islamabad, after his health started to deteriorate, according to his family members.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences to Khan’s family, saying on Twitter that he was loved by the nation because of “his critical contribution in making Pakistan a nuclear weapon state”.
However, the world saw him differently.
Khan set up the Khan Research Laboratories in 1976 to pioneer his country’s nuclear program – set up to counter neighboring India, which had tested a nuclear device in 1974. His work was mainly on centrifuges required to purify the uranium.
However, his maverick tendencies made him a bad team player, and his quest for publicity also worked against him.
Khan, who was already in the cross-hairs following the Dutch government’s accusations of stealing centrifuge designs, began transferring information to both North Korea and Iran from the late 1980s. As Pakistan faced sanctions after testing a nuclear device in 1998, his role came under further scrutiny and in 2003, the US handed over a dossier of his proliferation activities to the then Pervez Musharraf government.
On February 4, 2004, a tearful Khan appeared on national television to confess his proliferation activities and seek the nation’s apologies. He was pardoned by President Musharraf the very next day but placed under house arrest. In 2009, he successfully moved the court to have the restriction withdrawn.
However, he was never in the limelight again. (IANS)