Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan waves to journalists from the front door of his house in Islamabad in this August 28, 2009. — File Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya, may try his hand at politics to rescue a country he says has become worse than a banana republic.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, still lionised as the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb despite his fall from grace in 2004, may have some appeal ahead of elections due next year.

Many Pakistanis are deeply frustrated with their leaders over everything from chronic power cuts to their strategic ties with the United States, and they might welcome someone seen as a national hero on the political stage.

“I want to bring change and help the people of Pakistan, like I did back in 1974, when India test fired its nukes,” Khan told Reuters in an interview at his heavily guarded Islamabad home. “Now, today, once again this country needs my help.”

Khan's new movement, Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Pakistan, or Movement for Protection of Pakistan, is urging the South Asian nation's youth to be heard through national elections and break the stranglehold of traditional political dynasties.

The 76-year-old scientist says Pakistan's young people should stop wasting time watching “useless” current affairs talk shows which dominate the airwaves every night and purge the country of corrupt politicians through the ballot box.

“The youth is 47 per cent of this country's population, they can bring the change,” said Khan, sitting in his study, near swords given to him by heads of state hanging on walls and Urdu poetry books on shelves.

“They should realise the importance of their vote and select those people in the next election who are clean.”

Khan was at the centre of the world's biggest nuclear proliferation scandal in 2004 when he confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

He was pardoned but placed under house arrest in 2004 by then president Pervez Musharraf. The government relaxed restrictions on him in 2009 but his movements are still limited.

There is a widespread belief in Pakistan that Khan was the victim of an international conspiracy against the country's nuclear programme.

Pakistani authorities deny any connection to Khan's smuggling ring but have never let foreigners question him.

Many Pakistanis still hail Khan as the man who enabled Pakistan to respond to India's nuclear detonations with its own tests in 1998.

He fondly remembers working on Pakistan's nuclear programme in the 1980s and how then military ruler General Zia ul-Haq once kissed him on his forehead when significant progress was made.

Khan said his movement would register as an official political party if it gained momentum. So far, it is winning support from businessmen in the commercial capital, Karachi, as well as from a religious party, students and others.

“Lots of army officers ... a large number, still believe that I have done my best for this country, they respect me,” he said.

“They know if I were not there, (the) Indians would have beaten them now.”

Khan appeared healthy and said he gets a check-up every day from a nurse. He said he gets up at 6:30am., never misses prayers and reads newspapers and makes calls. In the afternoon, friends often drop by to see him, he said.

Broken Promises

Khan seems determined to change what many see as a stale political landscape that has held the country back.

Civilian leaders are often preoccupied by power struggles or tension with the military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 65-year history.

Critics say little attention is paid to a dizzying array of problems including a fragile economy, a stubborn Taliban insurgency, poor roads and infrastructure and an inadequate school system.

“All the previous promises have not come true. People are jobless. They have no food to feed themselves. This country is even worse then a banana republic,” said Khan.

Pakistan, created out of Muslim-majority areas in colonial India 65 years ago, could face the same fate as Arab states which were swept by revolts if more effective leaders were not elected, he said.

“Let me tell you to come out of the fantasy that nothing will happen to this country because it was conceived in the name of God,” he said.

“All the Arab and Middle East and other Muslim states were created with the same ideology but what happened to them?”

Khan says he has received invitations to lecture at universities and he intends to make road trips to visit supporters.

“So far, 1.5 million people from all over Pakistan have contacted us,” he said.

It's not clear whether Khan will manage to translate his status as a national hero into votes, especially since he does no have total freedom of movement.

“I am at the moment only enticing people to come forward and bring change through their vote by selecting good people,” said Khan, who has a dog and nine cats, and feeds dozens of wild monkeys that descend on his garden and pool from nearby hills.

“It looks difficult but if people start joining bit-by-bit it can get successful.”

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Comments are closed.

Comments (56)

August 31, 2012 8:57 pm
shame on you for saying such things against him. I think we should think before saying something. He has made us nuclear nation. Otherwise we wud have collapsed much earlier. What an accumen you have, hats off to you , salute to you Mr Piri
August 31, 2012 8:31 pm
Or else he would damage the ongoing movement of IK which is primarily a soft revolution.Sitting in USA I m stunned that how dirty business it has become.On the other side another prominent religious scholar through his thoughtful address reached the superlative degree to have the desired system.Why is this extremist approach? Dr sahib must also realize that what he's up to.I m afraid if ever after the forthcoming elections the change will emerge if the right decision is ignored.
Keti Zilgish
September 1, 2012 6:38 am
The only change that is required in Pakistan or any where else, for that matter, is an anti-capitalist one.
Jahanzaib Rehmat
August 31, 2012 5:16 pm
We welcome you sir .. People like you are the reason Pakistan is safe today otherwise all our Politicians and privileged class has done every thing to make us weak and corrupt ..Pakistan is changing and it will rise very soon .. I will ask you to join Imran khan because he is the reason that people are awaking every day !!
Peace for All - Islam
September 1, 2012 5:55 am
grown up dude.. how long you are criticizing to others?? .. try to live make the other live.. life is too short dear.
September 2, 2012 4:50 pm
Data Wata mean nothing in Pakistan. Practicaility is more important. AQ Khan will show that Jinns will provide energy for water cars and nuclear bombs. According to AQ, he made the bomb and saved Pakistan. That is enough for Pakistanis to know that he is the greatest scientist ever.
September 1, 2012 1:59 am
Yes sir. The has come to take our country back.
August 31, 2012 4:35 pm
Stealing, accumulating wealth by selling secrets and assets, and then blaming everybody else are all hallmarks of a great Pakistani politician in the making. AQ goes further than anyone else because he is great at saying , "I did this, I did that, I did everything, I saved Pakistan" AQ is also very good at writing articles on heart disease, brain disease, accuracy of Quran, moon sighting errors, jinns for nuclear energy, amazing practicality of water kit for cars, etc. This is what the 47% of Pakistani youth aspire to be. Great role model we have in AQ.
Syed A. Zafar USA
September 1, 2012 5:08 am
Dear Khan saheb, keun aap burhaapay mein apny buchee khuchee izzat ko mazeed kharaab karnay kay chakkar mein hain?" (why you want to hurt your remaining reputation which is already in decline) There are already plenty of retired military, bureaucrat and judicial elites in Pakistan waiting in line to play hero again with our nation. And besides, one way or other you will end up joining or working together with IK or JI any way. If not, what difference you can make under the agenda of other religious extremists. If you really believe that you can use our youth better than others in the name of change, you need to hurry up and prove that you have all the guts and whistles required to attract our youth/masses. Otherwise, in my sincere opinion, you are better off without being played further. At least you can save the remaining reputation. However, there is one possibility which can improve/save your reputation and may be it can help you build a political base too, that is: donate all your wealth you acquired through legal or illegal means to educate and facilitate the unfortunate people/children of Pakistan. Build schools and hospitals for the neglected ones but not like others who play religious, national, regional and political cards under the banners of charity organizations to build their financial/political empire and serve the interests of their masters. zafarsyed40@yahoo.com
August 31, 2012 3:27 pm
It is a nice move from Khan Sahab. He should collect maximum support from the people and in General elections request them to vote for Imran Khan. This way he can contribute in bringing change in the country and why not.
August 31, 2012 10:00 pm
Dr. sahib. You appear too naieve for Pakistani politics. Please dont go in by yourself. Join hands with Imran Khan. That would serve Pakistan the most.
aamir saeed khan
September 1, 2012 5:42 am
we love you AQK we know u are an honest and hard working person and what ever u do is for pakistan and for pakistanies dont listen to people do what ever u think is right aamir
August 31, 2012 9:30 pm
AQK is our Pakistani hero...!
September 1, 2012 2:48 pm
In a functioning meritocracy, an individual of Dr. AQ Khan's caliber should be rewarded, graced and honoured. What message are we sending to our next generation of talented and aspiring nuclear scientists by punishing one of our most prized and talented scientists. AQ Khan for president!
Nadeem Khan
August 31, 2012 4:02 pm
Yes you are right your father has developed Atom Bomb for Pakistan
Hussain Naqvi
August 31, 2012 1:00 pm
Khan should announce his political party formally and hope he will be able to penetrate in the previleged status of a political leader. Let us wish him the best of luck with scuccess.
September 1, 2012 2:07 am
So what you think of other nuclear powers.they are also evil of the world. Say it all nuclear powers are evil but I know you are only anti-pakistan.Sal you are such a hypocrite
August 31, 2012 4:17 pm
Absolutely agree.
Mustafa Razavi
August 31, 2012 4:30 pm
Sud Bismillah, ignore the Baniya Brigade and the deep state of the status quo. We need to uproot this wadera democracy once for all.
Truth Seeker
August 31, 2012 3:58 pm
There is a difference between Scientist & thief
August 31, 2012 4:53 pm
spot on Farooq, best comment
August 31, 2012 1:03 pm
What kind of nuclear scientist doesn't even know laws of thermodynamics? He's not a scientist but a fraud. Politics is the best place for him.
August 31, 2012 2:07 pm
Too late Khan sahab.Too many invested interests have now taken over.You now to them are now a nobody.What you gave them ,you cannot take back. You no longer are in the running.Because you have nothing to give other than your philosophy. And that does not work in Pakistan.What you have given the nation, if not used with great care can be your nations biggest down fall.Most of you Pakistani's have not considered this.
August 31, 2012 11:26 am
“They know if I were not there, (the) Indians would have beaten them now.” Financially and Internationally they have Mr. Khan. Pakistan is looked as the evil of South Asia. Keeping with the Military goals (armament and Indian conspiracy) will not be progression. Radical thinking is needed - you have none of that.
Agha Ata
August 31, 2012 12:30 pm
Dr. Qadeer, there is no doubt about your abilities in making an atom bomb, but in having the nation united behind you and then establishing new revolutionary government , there is!
August 31, 2012 12:30 pm
Well, he has all the credentials that are required to be a succesful politician in Pakistan: 1)Has criminal record. 2)Big Ego. 3) Stole from his employers. 4) I'll gotten wealth etc.etc.
August 31, 2012 12:33 pm
We love you AQK - but for God sake just stop being part of the media picture. You do not see any of the other 120.000 people being involved (directy or indirectly) in the sensitive nuclear field popping up in the media every other day.
El Cid
September 1, 2012 3:29 am
@Farooq: You described Zardari and Benazeer Bhutto perfectly.
September 1, 2012 3:10 pm
Well said.
August 31, 2012 4:16 pm
Absolutely. Why not. After all, he IS our national hero.
Muhammad Ahmed Mufti
August 31, 2012 4:30 pm
Its more than India card , he has delivered on what he promised. West hates him and its understandable. Its very hard for the west to drop its colonial mindset. This man has made it hard for the west or its domesticated ally India to overrun Pakistan without paying a big price.
August 31, 2012 2:14 pm
Another person entering politics by playing India card. Welldone
September 2, 2012 4:53 pm
He is already very dirty, jumping into another dirty pool won't make him more dirty.
September 2, 2012 4:51 pm
Yeah he is honest. I thought he openly admitted committing a great crime.
September 1, 2012 6:18 am
Have you given any thing to Pakistan ?? .. instead of criticism.
Sane mind
September 1, 2012 11:26 am
good luck to Pakistan, god will only save you with this thinking
Nadeem Khan
August 31, 2012 4:03 pm
There is no such thing as India Card, its a reality
Karachi Wala
August 31, 2012 12:02 pm
"He fondly remembers working on Pakistan’s nuclear programme in the 1980s and how then military ruler General Zia ul-Haq once kissed him on his forehead when significant progress was made" Could it be kiss of death?
Peace for All - Islam
September 1, 2012 6:06 am
Giving up doesn't always mean that you are weak.. some times it means that you are strong enough to let other go.. so Grownup.. at least he appreciates.. and one we'll show you.. as there are no. of failures behind a success.. no one is perfect in this world.
September 1, 2012 2:14 am
This is the height of bias against Dr qadeer that the news begins with nasty words of blaming him of selling nucs to Iran when Dr qadeer already clarified his position how musharaf forced him to admit on TV.furthermore what about selling of nuclear secrets by Americans to Israel and selling of nucs by other nuclear powers. The Dawn is now totally anti Pakistan.
September 1, 2012 6:47 am
Grownup dude.. be mature... try to live & make the other live.. . life is too short.
September 1, 2012 2:54 am
welcome mr khan. it seems that you have the power to do something, please use your energy for the nation, dear sir. may be joining joining SATTAR EIDHI is a good idea. we need more EIDHIS.
August 31, 2012 7:54 pm
Best of luck. If you can prevent even one corrupt politician from entering the parliament, you have succeeded imo.
September 1, 2012 7:19 am
I'll vote for him. Hopefully he will get us the water driven car and with similar technology solve all the worlds power problems. He is a fantastic scientist and I have every confidence he can run the car on water.
August 31, 2012 4:18 pm
AND provided Pakistan with atom bomb, which has no doubt saved the country from wars (either with india or america). We should never forget that.
Saad (DXB)
August 31, 2012 11:33 am
Khan sahab, I would request you to join Imran Khan. I have tremendous love and respect for both of you Khans. However, due to his inexperience and temperament, he certainly needs an honest and patriotic mentor like you. I am sure if both of you join hands, you can change this country for good
September 1, 2012 2:34 pm
What data makes you believe that he is a "fantastic scientist"?
Syed rivi
August 31, 2012 6:53 pm
Welcome khan sahab,though it is late,but please try hour luckand try to save this beautifulcountry.godbless you. Syed rizvi
Jamshed Khan
August 31, 2012 5:26 pm
Scientists are unlikely politicians. Dr Khan should keep his good name and avoid jumping into the dirty, filthy pond of politics.
September 1, 2012 7:11 pm
Like all Pakistanis, I truly believe that Dr. Khan will run cars on water. Dr. Khan will run all motors and engines on water because he is a brilliant scientist, thanks to Allah. Dr. Khan will not stop there: he will make nuclear weapons that will use energy from water instead of uranium. Soon water will become very expensive, thanks to Dr Khan, the father of our nation which was created in the name of Allah the almighty. The world will become clean, pure, and peaceful, just like what Islam is, this is all thanks to water and Dr. AQ Khan who built nuclear weapons that has amazing destructive power.
August 31, 2012 5:03 pm
we lov u AQK and let the indians comment on ur page.....it increases ur respect.....we know thm dear.... lov u AQK
Ali Hassan
August 31, 2012 10:30 pm
All Pakistani Nationalists salute him, for his services to PAKISTANI NATION
August 31, 2012 11:48 pm
lol yeah...india has beaten us in every single department...don't really think there's anything left to beat us LOL...its a crying shame...pakistan are going in a backward direction whereas the rest of the countries are moving forward...we're the unfortunate ones to have corrupt leadership...hope MUSHARRAF returns!! to be very honest, he's our only hope...pakisan was still way better than what it is at the moment !!
August 31, 2012 9:51 pm
What has thermodynamics got to do with this article? Are you mistaking Dr. Qadeer Khan with with the guy who claims to run cars on water?
August 31, 2012 9:56 pm
Are you talking about Zardari or Nawaz Sharif?
August 31, 2012 6:29 pm
A.Q.Khan brought stolen centrifuge technology to Pakistan. Partly in exchange, China gave Pakistan drawings for building a tested nuclear fission device. Does that mean A.Q.Khan gave Pakistan the bomb? Sounds like a little resume padding if you ask me.
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