ISLAMABAD: Abdul Qadeer Khan, celebrated as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, died on Sunday at 85. He was laid to rest with state honour.
In recognition of his outstanding services for the country and the nation, the government announced a state funeral for Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior, the national flag of Pakistan shall fly at half-mast on Sunday.
The nuclear scientist passed away in Islamabad, where he had recently been hospitalised with COVID-19. International Islamic University (IIU) Vice Chancellor Dr Prof Ahmed-ul-Gazali led the Namaz-e-Janaza of Dr Qadeer. The mourners showered the ambulance carrying the body of Dr Khan with rose petals. Not only the open areas of Shah Faisal Mosque but Shahra-e-Dastoor was also jampacked with mourners.
Khan had always been hailed as a national hero for transforming Pakistan into the world’s first Islamic nuclear weapons power and strengthening its clout against rival and fellow nuclear-armed nation India.
Prime Minister Imran Khan joined a rapidly building chorus voicing grief at the news, lamenting that the country had lost "a national icon". He said he was deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Abdul Qadeer: he was loved by our nation because of his critical contribution to making Pakistan a nuclear weapon state.
Arrangements were quickly made for a state funeral Sunday afternoon at Islamabad’s Faisal Mosque, with all government ministers and armed forces officers asked to attend. Flags were also ordered to fly at half-mast. It began raining heavily as Khan’s coffin, draped with a Pakistani flag, was carried through a sea of black umbrellas.
Amid tight security, a massive crowd gathered to bid him farewell, with many making videos and snapping pictures as the coffin was carried into a tent-covered area accommodating Khan’s family members, ministers and other top officials.
Nearby, thousands of members of the public crammed into an uncovered enclosure, getting soaked as they prayed in the downpour. Later, the body of Dr Abdul Qadeer was brought to H-8 graveyard in an ambulance for burial.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he (Dr AQ Khan) would be buried in Faisal Mosque as per his wishes. However, later on it was decided to bury him at H-8 graveyard in the federal capital.
The lovers of Dr Qadeer raised slogans of ‘Nara-e-Takbeer Allah-O-Akbar’ on the occasion. Khan was lauded for bringing the nation up to par with India in the atomic field and making its defences "impregnable". Born in Bhopal, India on April 1, 1936, Khan was just a young boy when his family migrated to Pakistan during the bloody 1947 Partition of the Subcontinent at the end of British colonial rule.
He did a science degree at Karachi University in 1960, then went on to study metallurgical engineering in Berlin before completing advanced studies in the Netherlands and Belgium. His crucial contribution to Pakistan’s nuclear programme was the procurement of a blueprint for uranium centrifuges, which transform uranium into weapons-grade fuel for nuclear fissile material.
He was charged with stealing it from the Netherlands while working for Anglo-Dutch-German nuclear engineering consortium Urenco, and bringing it back to Pakistan in 1976. On his return to Pakistan, then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto put Khan in charge of the government’s nascent uranium enrichment project.
By 1978, his team had enriched uranium and by 1984 they were ready to detonate a nuclear device, Khan later said in a newspaper interview. He maintained that nuclear defence was the best deterrent.
After Islamabad carried out atomic tests in 1998 in response to tests by India, Khan insisted Pakistan "never wanted to make nuclear weapons. It was forced to do so". None of the controversies that dogged Khan’s career appeared to dent his popularity at home.
Many schools, universities, institutes and charity hospitals across Pakistan are named after him, his portrait decorating their signs, stationery and websites. Acting president Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani condoled the demise of Dr AQ Khan and said a great patriotic son of Pakistan had passed away; every Pakistani was mourning today.
Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser and Acting Chairman Senate Mirza Muhammad Afridi also attended the funeral prayers.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the entire nation was in grief of the passing away of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Separately, leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) expressed grave sorrow over the sad demise of country’s top atomic scientist and announced observing Monday (today) as a day of mourning.
Nawaz Sharif, in his tweet said, “Dr Qadeer rendered invaluable services to Pakistan.” Shehbaz Sharif said: “Today the nation has lost a true benefactor who served the motherland with heart and soul. The passing of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is a huge loss for the country.”
PMLN Punjab President Rana Sanaullah said Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s commitment and contribution to making Pakistan invincible would be written in golden letters in the history of the country.
Maryam Nawaz, in her tweet, said it was sad to hear about the death of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. Other PMLN leaders Hina Pervaiz, Ahsan Iqbal, Abid Sher Ali, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, and others also offered condolences.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other PPP leaders expressed their profound grief and sorrow over the demise of Dr AQ Khan.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza and all Services Chiefs expressed deep sorrow over the death of Dr AQ Khan.
In a condolence message, issued here by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said Dr Qadeer rendered invaluable services to strengthen Pakistan’s defence.
Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu expressed his heartfelt condolences on the demise of Pakistan’s nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi also extended his heartfelt condolences on the demise of Dr AQ Khan.
Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jafari, Central Secretary General of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen Pakistan (MWMP) Sunday expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise of Dr AQ Khan.
Quaid-e-Millat-e-Jaffaria Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi said the Islamic world lost a loyal son with the demise of Dr AQ Khan.
The chairman of Writers and Educators Club, Shamim Haider Syed, also expressed grief over the demise of nuclear scientist.
Various PTI leaders including Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz, Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak, Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen M Mazari, Senator Aon Abbas Buppi, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Minster for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs (HA&MA) Ejaz Alam Augustine, Punjab Parliamentary Secretary on Human Rights and Minority Affairs Mahindar Pall Singh, Federal Minister for Water Resources Monis Elahi, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid, National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr Moeed Yusuf, Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Special Representative to the Prime Minister on Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman, Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Syed Ijaz Ahmad Shah, Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan expressed their condolences in separate messages.
Saifullah brothers -- Salim Saifullah Khan, Anwar Saifullah Khan and Hamayun Saifullah Khan -- also expressed their profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Dr AQ Khan.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQMP) postponed "Shehri Huqooq Rally", scheduled on Sunday due to demise of renowned nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Provincial Leader of Pakistan Muslim League Functional (PMLF) in Sindh Syed Shafqat Ali Shah Sunday expressed his deep sorrow over the demise of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Sunday announced that lawyers throughout the country would observe mourning day on Monday and would offer Fateha for the departed soul during tea break in their respective Bar rooms.
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