- Of course, my answer was ‘yes’ because the editors of my newspaper were already asking me to bring them some ‘exclusive’ news on the issue after India’s atomic bombing. ۔ After Sikandar Sahib told me when he would pick me up from my office, he hung up the phone.
It wasn’t long before I got a call from an army major. He introduced himself as Dr. Khan’s security officer. The security officer wanted to know if I was coming to Dr. Khan’s house this evening.
Dr. Khan was very sad that evening. After sitting in his drawing room, he said, “I have always worked to make Pakistan safer. It’s the result of hard work. “
Dr. Khan delivered a long semi-emotional speech which required an understanding of the recent developments in the country on the nuclear front.
Dr. Khan was excluded from the preparations for the nuclear blast. Pakistan was going to carry out the blast in response to the nuclear blasts carried out by India a few weeks ago.
The preparations by Pakistan were overseen by the Atomic Energy Commission (Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Agency) and Dr. Samar Mubarak. Dr. Samar’s fame in the national media was in competition with Dr. Khan’s popularity.
“We already have the bomb, it doesn’t matter if we do it or not,” he told us calmly and humbly. In the mid-1990s, we tested our bombs on computers. Our bombs have already undergone ‘vibration tests’. So we have bombs and our enemy already knows that. “
In the aftermath of the meeting, Dr Khan looked a little aggressive. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already ordered the installation of Ghauri missiles in view of the fear that our enemy may attempt an adventure,” he said. I also heard from a high-level meeting that the Air Force is on high alert.
Since that day I have had the opportunity to interview Dr. Khan many times but after meeting him this evening I never found him in this state of sadness again.
According to Pakistan’s state-run media, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, a scientist believed to be the founder of the country’s nuclear program, has died in Islamabad at the age of 85 after a long illness.
He was the only civilian involved in the nuclear program who had an active lobby in the national media.
Dr. Khan knew the art of speaking in front of the media with great skill. His unpretentious style of humor made even the tasteless journalists his admirers and admirers.
On the evening of May 27, 1998, it occurred to me that they had missed the opportunity to press the button on this historic occasion of the practical experience of nuclear detonation.
Dr. Khan’s name was actually associated with the nuclear program in such a way that the name of Pakistan’s nuclear program came to mind and that was only Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan.
That is why when he received the news that he had handed over the responsibility of preparing for nuclear tests to his rival in response to the explosions of the enemy country, Dr. Khan must have noticed the apathetic attitude of those responsible for managing the country’s security. Will be.
He was probably the only civilian to run the country’s security system with a dynamic and effective lobby in the national media. Working journalists were among his dead supporters.
This can be gauged from the fact that these journalists and media owners (including the then revolutionaries of electronic media) not only lobbied but also apologized for their support.
When President Musharraf’s government accused Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan of illegal nuclear activities
In addition to these supporters and comrades, a large number of army officers, political activists, intellectuals and media managers also had an endless caravan of well-wishers for them. These people would quietly spread words in support of him and whenever there was talk or discussion of nuclear weapons, he would strongly advocate for them.
President Musharraf’s government has had great difficulty in publishing reports of Dr Khan’s alleged involvement in the transfer of nuclear capabilities to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
I remember that Lt. Gen. Khalid Qadawi called a group of selected journalists and briefed them on Dr. Khan’s illegal nuclear activities.
I was working for a news channel at the time. When we came out after this briefing, my director of news was not willing to run ‘breaking news’ without confirmation of Dr Khan’s arrest by a senior government official.
Dr. Khan was arrested on January 31, 2004, on charges of transferring nuclear technology to other countries. On February 4, he read a statement on Pakistan Television in which he accepted full responsibility for the actions and acquitted the army and the government.
This was a claim that many nuclear experts were unwilling to acknowledge. The next day, President Pervez Musharraf pardoned him, but he remained under house arrest until 2009.
Critics of Dr Khan, especially in the West, have expressed frustration with the government’s soft stance on a man who has emerged as “the world’s biggest protagonist of nuclear proliferation”.
For many Pakistanis, Dr Khan was a symbol of national honor and dignity. He was considered a hero who made Pakistan’s national security stronger and more invincible than India’s.
In Pakistan, if Dr. Khan’s name is associated with the nuclear program, then in Western countries, his name is associated with ‘nuclear proliferation’. In the words of Western experts, Dr. Khan began his life’s journey as a nuclear proliferator and his professional life ended with his alleged nuclear proliferation activities.
When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto asked Abdul Qadeer Khan to return to Pakistan
In the spring of 1972, Dr. Khan joined the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory, a Dutch subcontractor company of URENCO. URENCO, a joint venture between British, German and Dutch companies, was established in 1971 to develop uranium enrichment through centrifuges. Research is possible.
These ‘centrifuges’ worked very fast. Dr. Khan was given lower level security clearance but due to weak monitoring process he got access to complete information of ‘Centrifuge Technology’.
He visited the Dutch plant at El Mello (eastern Dutch city) several times. One of his responsibilities was to translate German documents on the latest centrifuges into Dutch.
On September 17, 1974, Dr. Khan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in which he offered to provide his services for the development of the atomic bomb. In the letter, he opined that the way to make a nuclear bomb using centrifuges is better than making a bomb with plutonium (from which Pakistan was already trying to make a bomb) because it contains ‘nuclear reactors’ and There is ‘reprocessing’.
In a TV interview in August 2009, Dr Khan said that he had written a letter to Bhutto in September 1974 saying that he had the required skills. Bhutto’s response was very encouraging, two weeks later he wrote me a reply letter asking me to return to Pakistan.
According to him, on his return to Pakistan in December 1974, I met Bhutto. I briefed Munir Ahmed Khan and his team on the details of the technology and asked them to prepare the ‘infrastructure’ before returning to the Netherlands.
I returned to Pakistan in 1975. I used to come to Karachi every year to visit my family. In 1975, Bhutto asked me to inspect the ‘site’ to see if any progress had been made. I told Bhutto I had to go back to Holland. However, their secret was that I could not go back and I would have to stay here.
“I told Bhutto I had a job there (in the Netherlands) and I had to go back,” he said. I can point to the direction of local scientists. My daughters are studying in the Netherlands and my wife has to take care of her elderly parents.
“I asked Bhutto to give me some time to think and let me consult my wife. When I told my wife that we would not return to the Netherlands, she was shocked and upset and rejected the plan.
“After pausing for a moment because of my ‘reputation’ for not lying, he (wife) felt I could do something for my country.”
No one can do this for Pakistan except me.
I told my wife that I can avoid loud claims and say that no one can do this for Pakistan except me. So he changed his mind and decided to stay in Pakistan.
In December 1974, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto met Dr. Khan and encouraged him to do as much as he could to help Pakistan achieve a nuclear bomb. The following year, Dr. Khan allegedly stole ‘drawings’ of centrifuges and compiled a list of mainly Western suppliers who could supply spare parts for the job.
On December 15, 1975, Dr. Khan left the Netherlands for Pakistan. He was accompanied by his wife and two daughters. During the trip, he allegedly brought with him to Pakistan a list of ‘blueprints’ and parts suppliers.
Initially, Dr Khan worked with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) but had differences with Munir Ahmed Khan, the agency’s head.
In mid-1976, under the direction of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Dr. Khan set up the Engineering Research Laboratory (ERL) to develop uranium enrichment capacity. In May 1981, the laboratory was renamed Khan Research Laboratory or KRL with its headquarters in Kahuta.
Dr. Khan developed a preliminary model of the centrifuge according to the German model and used a list of spare parts suppliers to import the necessary components. Spare parts suppliers included, among others, Swiss, Dutch, British and German companies.
Eager to tell stories of migration from India
Dr. Khan was eager to tell stories about his migration from India and his key role in the establishment of Pakistan. The last time I interviewed him, he told his Indian journalist about the debate in which he highlighted the importance of the important role of his Muslim identity in shaping his strategic and political ideas.
In 1947, during Dr. Khan’s childhood, Pakistan, which included the Muslim regions of India and the east and west of the subcontinent, gained independence from Britain. Dr. Khan came to West Pakistan in 1952 and graduated from Karachi University in 1960 with a degree in Metallurgy.
In the next decade, he studied abroad. He first moved to West Berlin and then studied in Delft, Netherlands, where he earned a master’s degree in metallurgy in 1967.
In 1972, he received his doctorate in metallurgical engineering from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. Meanwhile, in 1964, he married Hendrina Retrink, a British woman who was born in South Africa to Dutch parents and raised in northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) before moving to the Netherlands.
Dr. Khan used to be aggressive while talking about India or talking to an Indian journalist. He also repeatedly incited Pakistani military and security officials to use the nuclear threat against India.
Most of the time, his fiery rhetoric made headlines. In one of these interviews, Dr. AQ Khan eloquently reminisced about the days when more than one million Indian troops and 1,300 tanks had gathered on the border of Pakistan’s Sindh province.
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan says, “I remember very well what happened on the last week of January when Mushahid Hussain brought an Indian journalist to my house for informal gossip over tea.”
Interview with an Indian journalist who was perceived as a threat
Dr. Khan told me about his conversation with Indian journalist Kuldeep Nair. As a result of this conversation, senior Indian journalist Kuldeep Nair had written the famous news on the basis of which it was considered as a nuclear threat by Pakistan in the tense situation resulting from India’s ‘Brass Tech’ military exercises.
It was the last afternoon of January 28, 1987, when Dr. AQ Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program, was alone with his wife at his residence in the E-7 sector of Islamabad. His employee was on leave. Suddenly the bell rang and the security officer of the house came and informed Dr. Khan that some uninvited guests had come.
The guard further elaborated that one of the visitors was prominent Pakistani journalist Mushahid Hussain. Dr. Khan addressed the security officer and instructed him to bring them in and put them in the guest room.
When Dr. Khan came to see him, the other guest who accompanied Mushahid Hussain recognized him as Kuldeep Nair, who belonged to the Indian Punjab and was a well-known journalist in India.
Mushahid Hussain told Dr Khan that Kuldeep Nair had come to attend his wedding which was going to take place next week. During the tea, the three chatted on various topics ranging from Pakistan-India relations to Indian history and Hindu-Muslim relations.
Eventually, the conversation turned to Pakistan’s nuclear program, which had recently begun under the supervision of Dr. AQ Khan.
Dr. AQ Khan told me in an interview that he remembers all the details of this meeting very well. He had said that Mushahid Hussain is getting married and Kuldeep Nair has come to attend it. From the airport, Mushahid Hussain brought them straight to my house for gossip over a cup of tea. There were no employees in my house, so my wife made tea for us. ‘
Referring to the discussion on the division of Kuldip Nair, Dr AQ Khan said, “Kuldip Nair said that I am from Sialkot but now I live in New Delhi. You are from Bhopal but now you live in Islamabad.” Kuldip Nair argued that partition was just a mirage.
Dr. Khan told me that he replied to Kuldeep Nair, “What you have just stated is part of history and history cannot be erased.” Let’s go ahead and acknowledge this as a fact. “
Talking to this correspondent, Dr. Khan had said, “Then he (Kuldip Nair) said that if you make 10 bombs, we will make one hundred …” And I replied that there is no need to make so many bombs. Three or four on both sides is enough.
Dr Khan claimed that Nair had sold the informal conversation to the London Observer for جع 20,000 in the form of a fake interview or news story. “There was no interview,” he said. It was just gossip over a cup of tea. “
The fall of Dr. Khan’s monopoly on the nuclear issue
In May 1998, Dr. Khan fought for the right to detonate a nuclear bomb within the entire system of Islamabad’s bureaucracy. His opponent was the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
According to details of his fight against bureaucracy published in the Pakistan Defense Journal (Pakistan’s Defense Magazine) in 2000, Dr. AQ Khan presented his case to the Cabinet Defense Committee in the second week of May 1998.
According to the report, he stressed that “KRL is fully prepared and has the capability to detonate a nuclear device within ten days if ordered by the DCC (Cabinet Defense Committee).” And it was KRL that first enriched uranium, converted it into metal, molded the metal into semicircles, molded it into a machine and shaped it into an atomic bomb of its own kind, and then its own ‘cold test’ (computer). But how to test nuclear explosions?
All these achievements were achieved without the help of PAEC. He said KRL was completely autonomous in the nuclear field. Dr. Khan went so far as to say that since the first entry into the nuclear field for Pakistan was due to KRL, he should also be given the honor of carrying out Pakistan’s first nuclear detonation and if that did not happen, the institution would be disappointed. And it will change. ‘
Later, in a televised interview, Dr. Samar Mubarak Mand, who was in charge of the arrangements for the preparation of the nuclear blasts and the main character who emerged as Dr. Khan’s rival, said in a televised interview that was not.’
Dr. Samar Mubarak Mand said, “I first visited Chaghi in 1981 … When the bombings took place, our team arrived on May 20, and on the morning of May 28, the tunnels (dug for nuclear blasts) were closed and preparations for a nuclear blast were completed.
The time was set for a nuclear explosion on May 28 at around 3 p.m. At that time, at about two o’clock and forty-five minutes, some of our guests had arrived who had come to witness the nuclear explosion and one of them was Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. This was Chaghi’s first visit of his life.
He said he had come at the invitation of the chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and had arrived 15 minutes before the atomic bombings.
Abdul Qadeer Khan was considered a symbol of Pakistan’s security.
In Pakistani society, Dr. Khan is considered a unique nuclear scientist. In this case, no one is considered equal to him, no one else can compare with him, he is considered a symbol of Pakistan’s security and the creator of the atomic bomb.
Later, when pro-peace activists introduced Dr. Khan as a metallurgist rather than a scientist, Dr. Khan’s supporters began to highlight his role in the development of enriched material for the Pakistani bomb.
Extremely high-quality enriched uranium was produced in the Khan Research Laboratory with the help of machines developed by Dr. Khan with the help of technology and technical information brought from Germany. This component is similar in the Pakistani and Western statements that (according to the Pakistani statement) these technologies and technical information are ‘imported’ or (according to the Western statement) stolen from Western nuclear laboratories.
According to a report published by the US Congressional Research Service on August 1, 2016, entitled ‘Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons’, Dr. AQ Khan, a former Pakistani nuclear scientist, became the source of this and consequently the design and materials related to uranium enrichment. Used a similar network to supply Libya, North Korea and Iran.
The story of the Pakistani narrative dates back to the time of the Pakistani atomic bombings, when Dr. Khan was never involved in the design of the atomic bomb, but his efforts were limited to the production of highly enriched uranium material.
This was the time when Dr. Samar Mubarakmand started claiming that the cold tests of the design of nuclear explosions were conducted by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission under his supervision in the mid-1980s. Pakistani media also presented this statement as similar stories.
According to a report published in the spring 2000 by the Pakistan Defense Journal, “PAEC and KRL set the target equally but PAEC had two additional distinctions which KRL did not have. First, it was the PAEC that set up the site of Pakistan’s nuclear blasts in Chaghi.
“Secondly, PAEC had more experience in cold testing than KRL.”
This was the beginning of the end of Dr. Khan’s monopoly on nuclear discourse in Pakistani society. The monopoly was already under attack by pro-peace activists. But now voices from within the state machinery were questioning Dr Khan’s complete control over the statement.