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Father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, AQ Khan passes away

ISLAMABAD, Oct 11: Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, died in a hospital in Islamabad on Sunday. Khan, 85, had been admitted to KRL Hospital with symptoms of long covid. He was given a State funeral at Faisal Mosque.

“My objective in making the atomic bomb was that Pakistan becomes safe,” Khan once said. He acquired the technology to make nuclear bomb and detonated Pakistan's first nuclear device on May 28, 1998.

Khan had built up a network of scientists that transferred nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Libya, South Africa and North Korea, causing tremendous concern to the world, which apprehended that terrorists would one day get hold of the knowhow.

He was born in Bhopal in India but moved to Pakistan when partition of India took place. He studied the science and technology of metals, and did graduate work in Germany.

When in 1974 India conducted its first nuclear test, Khan was working at a unranium company in Amsterdam. He later claimed that he felt Pakistan's security was at risk with the implosion and he returned to Pakistan. He began building centrifuges to enrich uranium by stealing knowhow from abroad.

Pakistan's nuclear research complex was renamed as Dr AQ Khan Research Laboratories in 1981. Soon it was known that Pakistan was nourishing the idea of becoming a nuclear power and was in pursuit of making a nuclear bomb. The Pakistan Government dismissed Khan on January 31, 2004.

Former CIA Director George J Tenet wrote in his 2007 memoir, “His range of international contacts was broad — in China, North Korea, and throughout the Muslim world... he was trading nuclear expertise and material for other military equipment — for example, aiding North Korea with its uranium-enrichment efforts in exchange for ballistic missile technology.”

Paying tributes to Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan praised him for “his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon State.” “This has provided us security against an aggressive, much larger nuclear neighbor (India)... For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon,” the PM tweeted.

Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is survived by his wife, Hendrina Khan, and two daughters, Dina Khan and Ayesha Khan.

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