|Biographical detail : ||The father of Pakistan’s Atom Bomb.
Pakistan exploded six nuclear weapons in the desert of Baluchistan, in May 1998, (two weeks after India’s re-tested theirs), to scenes of national ecstasy, and Abdul Qadeer Khan was hailed as a hero. For three decades, at the top secret Kahuta Research Laboratories (now renamed Khan Research Laboratories) on the outskirts of Islamabad, Dr. Khan boosted uranium to weapons-grade and obtained enough of it to fuel Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions.
Khan moved to Europe to specialise in metallurgy at Berlin and at Leuven, in Belgium. In 1975, he joined a uranium enrichment plant in the Netherlands run by the British-Dutch-German consortium Urenco. In 1976 he returned to Pakistan and set in motion a nuclear weapons programme. Dr Khan promised the then President, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he could bring Pakistan back to parity with India, if the government could promise him unqualified support. Both promises were kept.
Dr Khan was awarded with Pakistan’s countless official decorations including 13 solid gold medals and many more public honours – the only Pakistani to have twice received the Nishan-I-Imtiaz, the country’s highest civilian honour. His image – wreathed in roses or electron rings – is a common sight on billboards and the sides of lorries that rumble down the roads of Pakistan. Ordinary Pakistanis revere Dr Khan as a great patriot and innovator who put himself at risk to obtain the nuclear grail.
Dr Khan was charged in 2003 with overseeing the sale of nuclear technology and know-how to Iran, Libya and North Korea. He later made a public apology, saying he took full responsibility for the proliferation activities. Although, President Musharraf officially pardoned him in 2004, Mr Khan was confined mainly to his house, except for a trip to Karachi in 2007 for cancer treatment at a hospital.
However, in his first western media interview, in 2008, (since 2004) Mr Khan said President Musharraf had forced the confession upon him. “It was not of my own free will. It was handed into my hand”, he told the London’s the Guardian.
Abdul Qadeer Khan was born in Bhopal in India, he moved to Pakistan in 1952, five years after the partition of British India.