Pakistan’s nuclear Scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan passed away at the age of 85 years in Islamabad after his health deteriorated, Aaj News reported on Sunday.
The family of the iconic nuclear physicist confirmed his passing, saying he had been in a very critical health condition and was shifted to the ICU. After contracting Covid-19 earlier, Khan had recovered but since last night his health deteriorated and he was shifted to Khan Research Laboratories Hospital’s (KRL) ICU.
His funeral will be offered in the Faisal Mosque later on Sunday, the family said.
A.Q. Khan: Nuclear hero to Pakistan, villain to West
Condolences pour in
President Arif Alvi expressed deep sorrow over the demise of the nuclear scientist, saying: “Had known him personally since 1982.”
“He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard. May Allah bless him.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “Deeply saddened by the passing of Dr A Q Khan. He was loved by our nation bec of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state.”
He added, “This has provided us security against an aggressive much larger nuclear neighbour. For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon.”
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar prayed for Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s soul after hearing about his demise. He paid tribute to the nuclear scientist, saying that he played a key role in making Pakistan invincible.
Defence Minister Parvez Khattak said he was deeply grieved over the news of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan passing, adding that “Pakistan will forever honour his services to the nation”.
Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood heaped praise on the nuclear scientist, referring to him as the “pioneer of Pakistan’s nuclear program”.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s death was a loss for the nation.
“Sad to learn of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s death. He was a pioneer of Pakistan’s nuclear program and contributed immensely to our security. May his soul RIP,” he tweeted.
Opposition Leader and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said 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.”
He stated that Qadeer’s role in making Pakistan an atomic power remains central. “May Allah shower His blessings on his soul!”
According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza and all services chiefs expressed sorrow over Dr Khan’s passing.
The ISPR statement also quoted Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa as saying that he had rendered invaluable services to strengthen Pakistan’s defence capabilities.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was born in Bhopal, India in 1936, and later migrated along with his family to Karachi.
Khan received his early education from Karachi’s DJ Science College. In 1961, he went to Europe for higher studies and earned his PhD degree from the universities of Germany and Holland.
Nuclear arsenal made national defence impregnable: Dr Qadeer
Dr Abdul Qadeer approached the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974 and informed him about his expertise in the challenging process of Uranium enrichment through which nuclear energy is acquired.
Qadeer offered to serve Pakistan with his capabilities and Bhutto immediately asked him to return to the country. He became a national hero not only in Pakistan but in the Islamic world when in May 1998 Pakistan gave a befitting response to India by conducting its nuclear tests.
He was at the centre of a global nuclear proliferation scandal in 2004. After a confession on national television, he was pardoned by then-president Pervez Musharraf but remained under house arrest for years in his palatial Islamabad home.
Dr Khan was awarded three presidential medals. He was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Order of Excellence) twice and the Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Crescent of Excellence) once.