Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic weapons program, passed away early Sunday morning, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed revealed.
The nuclear scientist, 85, was rushed to a private hospital in Islamabad after his health deteriorated.
Rasheed said that the doctors did everything to save the nuclear scientist’s life but couldn’t do so. Doctors added the scientist passed away after his lungs collapsed.
Dr AQ Khan’s funeral prayers will be held at the Faisal Mosque at 3:30pm. The hospital administration is making arrangements to move the body to his E-7 residence.
“When he was admitted at the military hospital a few days back, Dr Khan expressed his desire to be laid to rest at the Faisal Mosque,” the interior minister told SAMAA TV.
He also wanted the vice-chancellor of the International Islamic University to lead the funeral prayers. “We are finalising arrangements for that,” Rasheed said.
Earlier, on August 27, the nuclear scientist was moved to the KRL Hospital after he contracted Covid. Last month, according to a report by DAWN, the scientist complained that neither Prime Minister Imran Khan, nor his cabinet members inquired after his health.
Dr AQ Khan was lauded for bringing the nation up to par with arch-rival India in the atomic field and making its defences “impregnable”.
Who is Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan?
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was born on April 1, 1936, in Bhopal of British India. Khan attended the University of Karachi where he completed a BSc in Physics.
He was heavily influenced by the events of 1971, the loss of East Pakistan, and the subsequent test of nuclear explosives by India in 1974, which led him to write to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto expressing his desire to work for Pakistan’s nuclear program.
He joined Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in 1976. Pakistan had already acquired its weapons by the 1980s but detonated in the late 1990s after India conducted its tests.
He founded the Engineering Research Laboratory, or ERL, to develop a uranium-enrichment capability. In 1981 ERL was renamed the Khan Research Laboratory or KRL.
Dr AQ Khan was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz and the Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1989 and 1999 for his outstanding performance in the world of science and technology. But he found himself in the international crosshairs when he was accused of illegally sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya, and North Korea.
The scientist was placed under effective house arrest in the capital Islamabad in 2004 after he admitted running a proliferation network to the three countries.
A court ended his house arrest in February 2009, but his movements were strictly guarded, and he was accompanied by authorities every time he left his home in Islamabad.