News regarding political confrontation and civil-military supremacy has been circulating on social media for the last three days, in which the demise of a great man has become insignificant. The person, who died, is such a great benefactor of the Pakistani state that we should remember him for future generations.
This fact becomes even greater when we have done great injustice to the ‘Father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, so deeply scratched his soul that he remained miserable till his last breath. The purpose of this article is to bring out the facts in order to keep the record accurate.
Dr Abul Qadeer Khan suffered the most at the hands of two Pakistani rulers. In his interviews, he openly blamed Nawaz Sharif and General Pervez Musharraf for the prejudice.
Mian Nawaz Sharif’s case is strange, he did not have any direct issue with Dr Qadeer Khan. There were no apparent differences or conflicts of interest. It seems that Mian Nawaz Sharif’s huge ego was overwhelmed by the personal popularity or attraction of the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Nawaz Sharif wanted to make himself a non-partisan national hero after the atomic bombing. There is no doubt that Nawaz Sharif’s rejection of global pressure to conduct atomic tests was a big task, he should get full credit for it. This work, however, should not have been done in an attempt to degrade Dr Qadeer Khan.
Immediately after the atomic bombings, a column was written by well-known columnist Nazir Naji in which he tried to suppress the popularity of AQ Khan. Naji Sahib was then the speechwriter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and was considered his close and trusted ally.
In his article, Nazir Naji wrote that shortly before the nuclear explosions in Chaghi, when Dr Qadeer Khan arrived there, he was looking at the machines and equipment there in amazement. Naji wanted to give the impression that Dr Qadeer Khan had a small part in making the atomic bomb, and that he had no technical knowledge of the whole matter.
This was completely wrong. Anyway, Chaghi was approved fourteen years before the nuclear blasts in 1998. Much had happened there under the supervision of Dr Qadeer Khan. At that time no one knew Samar Mubarakmand and other anti-Dr Qadeer Khan scientists.
A few days after the atomic bombings, large banners were put up overnight in Lahore and other major cities of Punjab in which scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand was thanked for carrying out the process. This was the first attempt to make Samar Mubarakmand a hero in comparison to Dr Qadeer Khan.
Over the next few months, the government media team continued to bring Samar Mubarakmand to the fore, interviewing him, and building his image. Some journalists, who were closed to Nawaz Sharif, claimed that Mian Sahib feared that Dr Qadeer Khan would start aspiring to become the President of Pakistan.
Mian Sahib’s patron, senior editor Majeed Nizami, had suggested this. Mian Sahib wanted to appoint his favorite person the president. The same happened later. Dr Qadeer Khan was deeply saddened by this campaign against him. He regretted being unjustly targeted even though he had no intention of becoming president.
Dr Qadeer Khan witnessed another misfortune and more suffering at the public level under General Pervez Musharraf’s tenure. At that time, Pakistan was strongly pressurized over nuclear issues, because, building an atomic bomb for a third world country was too much difficult.
When the pressure increased, General Musharraf decided to sacrifice Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. A delegation of government leaders met AQ Khan and persuaded him to bear the brunt of the work he had done. However, the renowned scientist refused.
Later, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain met him in detail and cited various sentiments and patriotism. Dr Qadeer Khan came on TV and recorded his famous confession. It was decided that no action would be taken against him after that and he would formally go into low profile after a few days in security custody.
Promises with Dr Qadeer Khan were not fulfilled. He remained in custody for a long time, during which he also received ill-treatment by government officials. Above all, the government media and leaders made a vicious attempt to make Dr Qadeer a national criminal.
Mir Zafarullah Jamal was then the Prime Minister. He claimed that Musharraf had decided to hand over Dr Qadeer to the Americans and a CIA plane arrived here for this purpose, but he as the Prime Minister didn’t allowed it. He refused and sent a message to General Musharraf that doing so would lead to a civil war due to public outrage.
Even with regard to Dr Qadeer Khan’s financial resources, his opponents and critics kept saying a lot of wrong and lies. He was called a millionaire, a billionaire. Disrespectful people like Dr Pervez Hoodbhai had once built a symbolic grave in Bani Gala while protesting against him.
Meanwhile, AQ Khan’s supporters tried to restore his image. From Zahid Ali Akbar Khan to Dr Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, everyone said that Dr Qadeer was very honest and he never embezzled a single government’s penny. His salary was good, but he was a generous man, generously helping the poor.
Under General Musharraf, his pension and other financial problems arose. Dr Sahib then decided to increase his income through pen. He used to study literature in depth, he was interested in reading and writing. He announced to write Urdu columns.
The interesting thing in this regard was that regarding the detention of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and the repression of the Pervez Musharraf, the daily Nawa-e-Waqt strongly supported Dr Sahib. Editorials and columns were constantly written in his favor, and advertisements for Dr Sahib’s release were published in newspapers for many years.
Few days later, the biggest opposition newspaper of Nawa-e-Waqt, Jang, published an announcement that from tomorrow, national hero Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan will write a column in the newspaper.
After hearing this mews, Nawa-e-Waqt’s owner Majeed Nizami became furious. Instead of hiding his anger, he expressed it in the newspaper and complained to Dr Qadeer Khan that we had supported him for so many years and he decided to write a column in our rival newspaper.
There was a strong public reaction. Numerous modern-day readers wrote protest letters, made phone calls and spoke to the administration. They said that the newspaper did all this as a principled stand or its purpose was to benefit from Dr Qadeer in the future? Readers rated it as low-key.
An interesting thing in this regard is that at the request of Majeed Nizami, his nephew and editor of Nation Arif Nizami called Dr Qadeer Khan and complained in this regard. To this, Dr AQ Khan clearly said that his financial situation was bad and he thought of writing a column to run the house. Jang offered Khan Rs 200,000 per month at that time.
Arif Nizami was shocked to hear this. AQ Khan, who once controlled billions of funds and made Pakistan the only Muslim nuclear power in the world, did not even have the money to run a house and a scientist have to earn a living through pen. Later, Arif Nizami told one of his senior colleagues that he felt that Dr Qadeer Khan’s position was correct, what should he do?
Another authentic news in this regard is that the advertisement regarding the release of Dr Qadeer Khan, which was constantly advertised in Nawa-e-Waqt, was not posted for free. An anonymous fan of Dr Qadeer Khan used to send regular money in this regard. In other words, Nawa-e-Waqt did no favors to Dr Qadeer Khan. This was confirmed by a very senior and responsible journalist working in this newspaper these days.
General Zahid Ali Akbar was the project director of Kahuta program for many years. He had a close relationship with Dr Qadeer Khan. Zahid Ali Akbar shared these incidents in great detail for two or three hours at the well-known Thinkers Forum CNA in Lahore. According to Zahid Ali Akbar, Dr Qadeer Khan had elements of simplicity, piety and wisdom at the same time.
Dr. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood is a distinguished nuclear scientist, he stayed in Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, from there he was sent to Ariel Laboratories, he was Dr Qadeer Khan’s number two. In a meeting, he blamed Government College Lahore for the campaign against Dr Qadeer Khan.