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- Monday, October 08, 2012 - From Print Edition

Random thoughts

I fail to understand why so many TV stations are inviting a former dictator, known to have abused the nation for eight long years, to give his views. These are not the kind of opinions we should listen to and value. Regarding my person, Pervez Musharraf has constantly harped on outright lies. In almost every programme he claims that I did not make nuclear weapons and that I don’t even know anything about the technology.

After the nuclear explosions, Mian Nawaz Sharif invited the Saudi defence minister, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and his son, Gen Khalid, to visit Kahuta. Mian Sahab also invited the three services’ chiefs. I received the prime minister and the royal guests and showed them the facilities, the Ghauri missiles, the nuclear weapons (one fitted into a Ghauri warhead), the anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, the laser range-finders, etc.

Photos of this visit are kept in Kahuta museum. Now if someone else had made these weapons, missiles, etc. elsewhere, why would the royal guests have been taken to Kahuta? On December 10, 1984, I had officially informed Gen Zia in writing that we had perfected the nuclear bomb and could detonate it at a week’s notice.

This has been confirmed by Gen Arif, member of the Coordination Board for the Nuclear Programme, to Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, authors of the book Deception (page 112). It has also been confirmed by Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan, chairman of the Board for 17 years, in a letter dated August 16, 1999, to Mr Zahid Malik, chief editor of the Pakistan Times. This letter was recently published in the Pakistan Observer.

In it Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan wrote: “The nation owes a debt of gratitude to its nuclear scientists and engineers for transforming an essentially technological backward country into the 7th nuclear power in the world. In bringing about this radical change, the most vital and crucial contribution, in my judgment, was made by Dr A Q Khan and his research organisation.

Using weapon-grade enriched uranium, a product of KRL, as ‘fuel,’ they had developed, by the second half of 1984, a nuclear explosive device which could be assembled and detonated at a short notice... Who designed and initiated a programme for the indigenous fabrication of the various highly sophisticated devices and gadgets for enriching uranium to weapon grade and whose single-minded pursuit and unremitting efforts, surmounting all block and hurdles, both internal and external, culminated in the May 28 detonations.

It was no other than Dr A Q Khan and his team at KRL.” I received congratulatory letters from all the three services chiefs, who eulogised my achievements in warm words. I have copies of all these letters. Moreover, Mr Agha Shahi, former Foreign Minister, in a statement to Dawn on June 4, 2001, said: “if Pakistan was a nuclear power, it was only because of Dr. A.Q. Khan”.

Besides these authentic documents, Gen Musharraf himself, in his farewell dinner speech on February 27, 2001, said: “As we gather tonight to honour our most senior and eminent scientists, our national heroes, my thoughts go back to the eventful day in May 1974 when India conducted its first nuclear tests and, in the process, altered the security landscape of South Asia to Pakistan’s critical disadvantage. Coming so soon after 1971 dismemberment of our country, this event served to deepen our insecurity and vulnerability... Pakistan was left totally exposed to Indian nuclear blackmail and threats.

The situation was critical...and with no nuclear weapons programme worth the name, Pakistan looked to the sky for help. We did not lose faith and, sure enough, Allah Almighty answered the nation’s prayers, had mercy on our situation and made a miracle happen.

In walked a giant of a man, none other than Dr A Q Khan, the man who would give Pakistan a nuclear capability single-handedly... Subsequent years and events and Dr A Q Khan’s achievements are now well recorded and form a glorious chapter of Pakistan’s history... Dr Khan and his team sweated and toiled day and night against all odds and obstacles, against international sanctions and sting operations, to create, literally out of nothing, with their bare hands, the pride of Pakistan’s nuclear capability, the Kahuta Research Laboratories, later renamed most appropriately, the Khan Research Laboratories.

Within a few years he and his brave men gave Pakistan its first-ever fissile material in the form of highly enriched uranium and thereby levelled the scores with Indian. He is a rare success story in that he set out to achieve an objective for his country and, within his lifetime, has been able to see its fulfilment and received unprecedented accolades, admiration and everlasting gratitude from his countrymen.

Never before, in my judgment, has any nation owed so much to one single man’s achievements. Dr A Q Khan’s Nishan-e-Imtiaz and Bar, the only Pakistani to have been bestowed this honour, is the acknowledgement of a grateful nation and is thoroughly well-deserved.

Let me put on record formally: This nation is grateful to you for what you have done for us, today and for all times to come. You are our national hero and an inspiration to our future generations. Nobody can ever take that away from you and your place in history is assured. You will always be at the very top. We salute you and thank you from the depths of our hearts.”

I would like to clarify here that I brought knowledge of the enrichment technology with me and used it for turning this backward country into a nuclear power. I did not sell it to Pakistan, though it was worth billions of dollars and had taken hundreds of Dutch, German and British scientists and engineers 20 years to achieve. I following instructions from competent authorities in passing on technological information and I did not receive a single penny for doing so.

No international laws existed and Pakistan was not signatory to the NPT and NSG, and hence we were under no obligation to discuss or disclose our nuclear activities. Despite this, Gen Musharraf was more than willing to hand me over to the CIA for interrogation and it was only due to Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali’s refusal to obtain the cabinet’s approval that this did not take place. Mr Jamali has confirmed this in TV interviews and he lost his government because of it.

Gen Musharraf also claims that I wept before him. What a lie! Then attorney general Makhdoom Ali Khan and all the journalist present at the time can testify to this. What hurt most was that all the promises made to me were later reneged upon.

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