ISLAMABAD: The architect of Pakistan’s nuclear program and renowned nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was laid to rest at H-8 graveyard, Islamabad on Sunday evening.
Earlier funeral prayers of the nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was offered at Faisal Mosque, led by Prof Dr Ahmed Al Ghazali, were held at the Faisal Mosque at 3:30pm.
A large number of people were in attendance during the funeral prayers, despite rain which began to pour shortly after 3pm.
Among those who attended the funeral were cabinet members, parliamentarians and the military leadership.
Two separate enclosures were arranged within the mosque premises, of which one expressly catered to the general public.
Khan, 85, passed away early Sunday morning after his health deteriorated.
His health started deteriorating Saturday night, after which he was brought to the KRL hospital Sunday morning in an ambulance, at 6am.
Sources said the nuclear scientist experienced discomfort in breathing after which he was brought to the hospital. However, his health took a turn for the worse when his lungs started bleeding.
Doctors tried their best to save the renowned scientist’s life but were unable to do so, resulting in his death at 7:04am. Doctors have said he passed away after his lungs collapsed.
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.
Dr Khan is considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program and is revered at home as a hero for building the Muslim world’s first atomic bomb.
Dr Khan became a national hero overnight, not only in Pakistan but in the Islamic world as well, when in May 1998 Pakistan gave a befitting response to India by conducting its nuclear tests.
Following the tests, Pakistan became the sole nuclear power in the Muslim world and the seventh country to possess nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have kept Indian aggression in check.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, born on April 1, 1936, in Bhopal, India, was a renowned Pakistani metallurgist and nuclear scientist. He was among those who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 with their families.
Dr Khan is widely regarded as the “Father of Islamic Nuclear Bomb” or founder of gas-centrifuge enrichment technology for Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent program as he developed the Muslim world’s first atomic bomb.
He acquired his engineering degree from a university in the Netherlands in 1967 and later went on to secure a doctorate in metallurgical engineering from Belgium.
Dr Khan was the first Pakistani was awarded three presidential awards. He has been awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Order of Excellence) twice and the Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Crescent of Excellence) once.
Besides his research work, Dr Khan used to take an interest in welfare activities, he added. He proved that despite difficult circumstances, one can reach the destination one sets out for oneself.
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.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan praised Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan by saying that he was, for the people of Pakistan, “a national icon”.
“Deeply saddened by the passing of Dr A Q Khan. He was loved by our nation because of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state. This has provided us security against an aggressive much larger nuclear neighbour. For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon,” he tweeted.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif praised Dr AQ Khan, saying that the country has lost a true benefactor today.
In his condolence message, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said,” The nation has lost a great Muslim scientist and a national hero today.”
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan made the country’s defence invincible by his skills, said Fazlur Rehman.
Funeral prayers in absentia for the renowned scientist were held in various cities across Pakistan, including Bahawalpur, Mardan, Gujrat, Peshawar, Jhang and Hyderabad.
In Bahawalpur Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Sirajul Haq led the prayers.
In Hyderabad, MQM Pakistan held prayers in absentia. A rally scheduled to be held in the city was postponed.