Death of the father of the atomic bomb in Pakistan: who was Abdul Qadeer Khan?

the essential Abdul Qadeer Khan died at 24 years after being tested positive for Covid- 19 and hospitalized several times since August.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of the atomic bomb in Pakistan and national hero to his admirers, died at 85, Pakistani authorities said Sunday, after having tested positive for Covid – 19 and hospitalized several times since August. The Pakistani nuclear scientist, admired for making the country the first Islamic nuclear power but accused of illegally distributing technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, has died after being transferred to KRL hospital in ‘Islamabad for lung problems, according to Pakistani public television PTV.

Dr Khan had already been hospitalized in this establishment in August after testing positive for Covid, then sent home, before his condition deteriorated on Sunday morning, the channel said. He had gained his status as a national hero in May 1998 when the Islamic Republic of Pakistan officially became a military atomic power, thanks to tests carried out a few days after those of India, the eternal rival. His death generated a wave of sadness across the country.

Dr Khan will be buried at the Grand Mosque in Islamabad

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Dr AQ Khan,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter, noting how much admired the nuclear scientist was to Pakistan for “its crucial contribution to making us a nuclear weapon state”. “For the Pakistani people, he was a national icon,” he added. The Prime Minister also indicated that Dr Khan would be buried at the Grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, as he requested.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad told the press that the scientist would be buried “with all honors”, in the presence of the whole government and senior officers of the army. According to Islamic tradition, funerals should take place as soon as possible, usually within 19 hours after death.

“I saved the country for the first time when I made Pakistan a nuclear state”

Dr Khan was admired for allowing Pakistan to compete with India in the nuclear field, giving the country an “impregnable” defense. But in February 2004, Khan was placed under house arrest in Islamabad, after finding himself at the heart of a controversy, accused of illegally disseminating technology in the years 1990. In February 2004, he admitted on television to having engaged in proliferation activities, before going back on his statements, and obtaining the pardon of the president of then General Pervez Musharraf.

“I saved the country for the first time when I made Pakistan a nuclear state and I saved it again when I got there. admitted and took full responsibility for it, “Dr Khan told AFP in an interview in 2008.

In 2009, a court had pronounced the end of his placement under house arrest. Since then, he had remained subject to ultra-close protection, forced to inform the authorities in advance of each of his movements.

A popular and controversial figure

Born April 1 1936 in the Indian city of Bhopal, eleven years before the bloody partition of the British Indian Empire, Dr Khan was also responsible for the country’s missile development program. Graduated in science at the University of Karachi in 1960, he went to complete his training in Berlin, then in the Netherlands and Belgium.

His main contribution to the Pakistani nuclear program was the design of centrifuges, which enriched uranium in order to bring it to a concentration rate allowing the manufacture of weapons. He was accused of stealing this technology in the Netherlands, while he was working there for the Urenco consortium. Upon his return to Pakistan, then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appointed him to lead the national uranium enrichment program.

In 1978, his team succeeded in enriching it and in 1984 they were ready to detonate their first atomic bomb, Dr Khan later revealed in an interview. He admitted in a speech in 1984 that he had obtained the necessary elements from abroad. “It was not possible for us to manufacture everything in the country,” he said. After the first atomic tests in 1998, in response to those of India, Dr Khan assured that his country “did not want to develop nuclear weapons. He was forced to do so “.

None of the controversies that have marked his career has undermined his popularity, universal in Pakistan. Schools, universities, hospitals bear his name and his portrait illustrates posters, objects and websites.

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