‘Father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme’ Abdul Qadeer Khan dies

Pakistani atomic scientist died after being transferred to the hospital with lung problems.

Pakistan nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan was lauded for bringing the nation up to par with archrival India [File: Mian Khursheed/Reuters]

Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, has died at 85.

The Pakistani atomic scientist, hailed as a national hero for making his country the world’s first Islamic nuclear power but regarded by the West as a dangerous renegade responsible for smuggling technology to rogue states, was transferred to hospital with lung problems, state-run PTV said.

Khan had been admitted to the same hospital in August after contracting the coronavirus.

After being permitted to return home several weeks ago, he was transferred back after his condition deteriorated.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said on Twitter that an urgent meeting “was called.. to finalise arrangements for the funeral ceremony”.

Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi said he was “deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan”, whom he had known personally since 1982.

Khan was lauded for bringing Pakistan up to par with archrival India in the atomic field and making its defences “impregnable”.

But he found himself in the international crosshairs when he was accused of illegally sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea.

After a confession on national television, Khan was pardoned by then-president Pervez Musharraf but remained under house arrest for years in his palatial Islamabad home.

In 2006 Khan was struck with prostate cancer but recovered after surgery.

A court ended his house arrest in February 2009, but Khan’s movements were strictly guarded, and he was accompanied by authorities every time he left his home in Islamabad.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies