ISLAMABAD: Benazir Bhutto had asked for the transfer of nuclear technology to two countries that she had named, said Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the renowned nuclear scientist who is regarded as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, in an interview with The News/ Jang.
Responding to different questions, Dr A Q Khan said that the transfer of nuclear technology was not so easy that one could put it into his pocket and hand it over to another country. “At least 800 people are used to supervise the process. The-then prime minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto summoned me and named the two countries which were to be assisted and issued clear directions in this regard,” Khan said.
“I was not independent but was bound to abide by the orders of the prime minister, hence I did take this step in compliance with her order. The prime minister would have certainly known about the role and cooperation of the two countries, mentioned by her, in our national interest,” he explained.
Dr A Q Khan said that Nawaz Sharif, who now claims credit for the nuclear tests and tries to become a hero, was absolutely not ready to conduct the nuclear tests and did not want to do so because of the fear that the United States might be annoyed and his government might be threatened. He said through some of his aides, who were also his (Qadeer’s) friends, Nawaz Sharif tried to convince him to win international sympathy by staying silent in response to the Indian nuclear tests. “But I made it clear that if he did so, I shall put the facts before the media. After this, Mian Nawaz Sharif was compelled to conduct the nuclear tests,” he said.
The noted nuclear scientist said the delay in the decision by Mian Nawaz Sharif had paved the way for international pressure on Pakistan. “Had he immediately decided to respond to India, there would have been no time to pressurise Pakistan whereas we had made it clear that we can conduct nuclear tests on a notice of half-an-hour.”
Dr Khan said today some people were making efforts and even telling lies to claim credit for achieving nuclear capability but they were not being asked whether any country or personality had credited them with the development of the atomic bomb or accepted their status in this regard.
In response to a question, Dr Khan said he had many expectations from Imran Khan but was disappointed after a few meetings with him, as his political thoughts were still immature and those pinning hopes on him would be let down. He opined that Imran Khan does cosmetics politics.
As a resident of the area, Dr Khan has made the last sector of the federal capital, along the Margalla Hills and its beautiful road, respectable for the residents. The security measures in the surroundings have definitely created a little mystery but when the people are told that the father of the country’s nuclear bomb Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan lives here, a devotion to this environment also makes way into their hearts.
Although, years have passed since he achieved the feat of making the motherland the first nuclear power of the Islamic world, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is still the heartbeat of the living nation. His achievement is acknowledged not only in Pakistan but also throughout the world. All foreign dignitaries who met with Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan till 2000 mentioned him as a personality that made a great achievement for Pakistan and he earned immense acknowledgement and appreciation in the Muslim Ummah as the father of the nuclear bomb.
About the drone attacks in the tribal areas, Dr Khan said these were being carried out with the consent of the political leadership and the military. “The political leadership is responsible for the drone attacks in the tribal areas while the military too cannot be absolved of the responsibility because it swears to protect the soil and frontiers of the country but it is not abiding by its oath by not stopping the drone attacks on the soil of the country,” he argued.
“There is no need to order the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in this regard. If we provide indigenously-developed shoulder-fired small missiles to tribesmen, they will shoot down the drone aircraft. This is wrong to say that drone planes cannot be downed,” he opined.
Dr Khan, who is also known worldwide as AQ Khan, said that only poor and innocent citizens are being killed in attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). He argued that if terrorists were being killed in these attacks, why were their bodies not being shown to the media? He said the United States would not withdraw from Afghanistan completely, but would maintain its real strength there.
“The US agenda regarding Pakistan is very clear. It wants to divide Pakistan and wants to limit the country merely to the Punjab. The US wants to get a no-war pact signed with India after naming the Punjab as Pakistan whereas we should improve relations with and adopt a friendly attitude towards India, instead of signing a no-war pact with her,” Dr Khan said.
Dr Khan said that Pakistan’s relations with India were heading in the right direction nowadays. He said Pakistan should promote friendly relations with India while sticking to its stance. He said he does not want to play a role in national politics but has launched the Tehrik Tahaffuz-e-Pakistan party to protect the country. He said he does not want to assume power, rather he wants to bring good and clean people in power.
He said that President Asif Ali Zardari was even far ahead of General Ziaul Haq and had badly beaten Mian Nawaz Sharif in the political arena. He said a government, which has a democratic face and acts upon the dictates of the United States like the present government, is highly suitable to Washington.
About the political situation in the country, Dr Khan said that whereas the government was definitely responsible for the present unrest, lawlessness and instability in the country, the opposition too was equally responsible for it. He was of the view that the political ineptness, lack of strategy and wrong decisions on the part of Mian Nawaz Sharif had a a major role in making President Asif Ali Zardari so strong.
Nawaz cooperated with President Zardari under the Charter of Democracy of Benazir Bhutto he had signed in London. “He believed that the government of Asif Ali Zardari will last just a few months or a maximum two years and then he will be the only successor. Because of the same confidence and misunderstanding, he did not even get his share for extending cooperation and did not demand the offices of the prime minister, speakership of the National Assembly or the office of the Senate chairman,” he opined.
Dr Khan said Nawaz Sharif started waiting for the fall of Asif Ali Zardari-led government after getting power in the Punjab only whereas he should have formed the government with the PML-Q and MQM and parliamentarians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Maulana Fazlur Rahman would have automatically joined him. But, he said, the PML-N chief weakened himself and strengthened Asif Ali Zardari by displaying a lack of political wisdom.
Regarding the general elections, Dr Khan said the stance of the Supreme Court that it had closed all doors for the army to come into power was meaningless because if the army wants, it can assume power and then it could also create a justification for assuming power and constitutional protections. If the army wants, he added, it could also hold elections on scheduled time.
“When the aircraft of General Ziaul Haq had met an accident, the chief of the army of the time had decided to hold elections in the country without delay of even a moment. He reached Islamabad from Bahawalpur and decided to make Ghulam Ishaq Khan president of the country and directed the chief election commissioner of the time, Justice (retd) Nusrat Mirza, by summoning him to the Army House the same night to make preparations for holding elections in the country,” Dr A Q Khan recalled. “Some quarters had advised him to put off the elections, saying that in this way Benazir Bhutto may come into power. On this, Aslam Beg said that if the people wanted the rule of a woman in the country, then who we are to stop them,” he added.
Dr Khan said General (retd) Pervez Musharraf presented him before the masses as a criminal to turn him from hero to zero to please the United States. He said the military ruler sent Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and S M Zafar, who took him to Musharraf. He said Musharraf told him that the United States wanted to clamp sanctions on Pakistan’s nuclear programme and for the purpose, she was making a justification of the alleged involvement of the Pakistan government in nuclear proliferation and she could get Pakistan declared a terrorist state by raising the issue in the UN Security Council.
“General (retd) Pervez Musharraf paid me glowing tributes, lauded my services for the nuclear programme and requested me that if you accept the responsibility of nuclear proliferation as a personal act, our nuclear programme may be saved and I did the same. But in fact Musharraf wanted to please the United States for prolonging his rule and the same happened,” he said.
Dr A Q Khan said the nuclear programme of the country was currently 100 percent safe, but if any dictator assumed power tomorrow, nothing could be said about the safety of the nuclear programme.