Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, a controversial figure for the international community, has died at age 85 after a long illness
Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, a controversial figure for the international community, has died at age 85 after a long illness. Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid confirmed his death in a hospital in Islamabad.
He started working on Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program in the 1970s. However, later he was accused of stealing the centrifuge uranium enrichment technology--that would be used in Pakistan’s nuclear program-- from a Dutch facility.
In early 2001, he was accused of running an illegal underground network that was involved in the sales of nuclear secrets to multiple countries. As the US scrutiny over his network grew, then Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf distanced the government from his activities.
Although Khan denied all allegations, he remained critical of Musharraf and even criticized the latter for his reaction to the issue.
For Pakistanis, he is a national hero for giving the nuclear bomb to Pakistan--the only Muslim country which managed to acquire nuclear weapons.
Reacting to the news of his death, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan called him a “national icon,” whose nuclear weapons program “provided us security against an aggressive much larger nuclear neighbor.” He is a national hero for Pakistan, he added.
Lately, his movements were highly restricted by the government, even inside the country and he had largely withdrawn from public life.