DR A.Q. Khan, the man who made us proud by making Pakistan a nuclear power, is no longer among us. To describe Dr Khan, the word ‘patriotic’ is too inadequate; his name in the history books will be written along with the names of the most patriotic persons on earth and among those who brought dignity and honour to their country.

When France refused to provide the reprocessing plant to Pakistan, cancelling the earlier agreement under the pressure of global powers, Pakistan was in dire need of enriching uranium through some other technology. It was Dr Khan who came up with the idea of centrifuges.

The government gave Dr Khan a go-ahead with full powers, and he finally succeeded in bringing Pakistan’s defence capabilities on a par with that of the enemy’s. His dedication, love for the country and sincerity to the cause helped establish a formidable defence system for Pakistan.

It is an open secret that Pakistan had fully developed nuclear device by the 1980s, long before conducting the nuclear tests in 1998 in reply to India’s nuclear explosions.

It is an irony and tragedy that like many other events in the history of Pakistan, some in the corridors of power tried their best to give the credit of developing nuclear weapons to some other scientists, but the people of Pakistan overwhelmingly rejected those self-acclaimed architects of the country’s nuclear bomb. Dr Khan remained their hero, and rightly so.

Dr Khan was given a state funeral, but the absence of the country’s leading lights, with the exception of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, was heart-wrenching and badly felt. Everyone who matters should have attended the funeral of the man who sacrificed a lucrative career and put himself and his family in great risk by taking up a job which was not acceptable to the enemies of Pakistan.

The presence of senior office-holders both civil and military would have sent a clear message to the world that we acknowledge and admire the services of our heroes, and that the defence of the country is our first priority on which we cannot and will not compromise.

Hats off to the people who attended his funeral prayers in large numbers despite heavy rains in Islamabad and paid tribute to the man because of whom the enemies stay away from undertaking any misadventure against the independence and sovereignty of the country.

Aamir Aqil
Lahore

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2021

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