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October 20, 2014

Unsung heroes

October 20, 2014

Part - XVI
Random thoughts
In my last column I mentioned my competent and impeccably honest colleague, Dr Muhammad Farooq. He had established an excellent network for ordering and procuring important materials and equipment through our upright representatives, Eng Ikramul Haq Khan (Minister in Bonn, Germany) and Abdul Jamil, auditor, Military Accounts, London, for which our Member Finance, Imtiaz Ahmad Bhatty, ensured the availability of funds.
I have mentioned Eng Ikramul Haq Khan earlier. He was a senior officer in POF Wah and I had acquired his services from Gen Ali Nawab, a competent engineer and a thorough gentleman. Ikram was very fair complexioned with green eyes and he looked like a European. He had already served in Germany for POF Wah and spoke German fluently, a great asset for us. When the western press got wind of the fact that he was placing orders for us, they decided to make a documentary about it and went to film Ikram at his residence.
He was living in Wachtberg-Pech, a suburb of Bonn, at the time. When he came out of his apartment to go shopping, he saw all the cameras but didn’t realise they were trying to catch him on film. During the next three or four hours he came and went two or three times without being accosted. After a few hours the film crew got fed up and left. The next day the TV station reported that their reporters had stood for hours outside his flat to film/photograph Ikram but he had not come out of the building, probably having been informed of their intentions beforehand.
We had a good laugh at the fact that they had actually seen him but not recognised him because he looked like a German!
The second Procurement Officer, Abdul Jamil, was an audit officer of Military Accounts posted with the Military Procurement Office (PATLO) at the High Commission in London. We had obtained permission from the military to utilise his services. He turned out to be invaluable for the project. He was sincere, efficient and

honest and did an excellent job for us. He was also extremely helpful in a personal capacity to our two daughters who were studying in England at the time, one in Canterbury and one in Brighton.
He would arrange reliable Pakistani taxi drivers to take them from their place of residence to the airport and vice versa upon their return. He also took care of all their tickets and reservations. The children used to call him ‘Uncle Jamil’ and still retain very fond memories of him.
The British government turned out to be more loyal than the (American) king and went after us with a vengeance. They tried to stop all our imports from England and wrote a letter to the high commission ordering them to stop “smuggling” goods in diplomatic bags, to which a Pakistani brigadier working for the Foreign Office and posted at the high commission in London replied that one Abdul Jamil was working for KRL and must have been doing so.
Considering the sensitivity of the project, his had been a very clumsy way of dealing with the matter. The British government then requested the high commission to send Jamil back to Pakistan. He helped us for more than 15 years and was an invaluable asset. On his return to Pakistan I posted him as director under the Member Finance. Now in his eighties, he leads a peaceful retired life.
When Eng Ikramul Haq Khan returned from Germany, I posted him as director general of the Precision Engineering Division where sophisticated, highly precise centrifuge components were made. Later, when Gen Zia entrusted me with the making of nuclear weapons, Col Qazi, Eng Ejaz Khokhar and Eng Ikramul Haq joined hands and designed and manufactured excellent jigs and fixtures to make bombs.
By 1983 we had produced sufficient components to successfully execute cold tests. Production of the actual bombs was started in early 1984, about which I informed Gen Zia in writing. These unsung heroes were all important parts of the team which made Pakistan a nuclear and missile power.
A few days ago a friend asked me whether or not we were superior to the Indians in nuclear power. I told him everything was relative. It is a matter of whether you can inflict unbearable damage to the other and whether or not they can do the same. There is no winner in nuclear warfare! We are each in a position to destroy the other, hence peace will last for many, many years, hopefully forever.
In 1984, after Gen Zia made it known to the Indians that we possessed nuclear weapons, it became a bit easier to talk about our programme. I was often requested to speak at Staff College Quetta, NDC (Rawalpindi), Air War College (Chaklala, Rawalpindi), Naval Staff College (Karachi) and many universities. It was always a great privilege for me to be at the Staff College and talk to the officers. After one of my lectures there, the officers were keen to find out the exact status of our programme and started asking very direct questions.
After having been assured from the commandant, Lt-Gen Syed Tanvir Naqvi (a very competent, smart, knowledgeable officer who would have made an excellent corps commander or COAS), that there were no foreigners present, I told the officers that we had been a nuclear power for a number of years now and that we had a large enough stockpile to destroy most large Indian cities many times over. There was great jubilation and I received a standing ovation for many minutes.
After the lecture, when we were having tea, most of the officers wanted to shake hands with me. After returning the many firm handshakes in kind, I was more than happy to go to my room, fill the wash basin with warm water, add a little salt and submerge my ‘tired’ hands for a few minutes. It was a soothing, comforting ending to an exhilarating experience.
I like to think that this lecture enabled the officers to have a sound sleep and forget that disgraceful day December 16, 1971 in Dacca. My colleagues and I are proud to have provided Pakistan with an impregnable defence and a mighty punching power, and that against all odds.
Tailpiece: In the last column, Murtaza Berlas was mistakenly mentioned as deputy commissioner, Bahawalpur while, in fact, he was commissioner there. The error is regretted.
To be continued
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