Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Architect of Pakistan's nuclear program

Born: 1935, Bhopal

He is the brains behind what has been a mysterious and controversial nuclear program whose latest products are five bombs tested in 1998. He is also the father of Pakistan's medium-range Ghauri missile, test-fired and which is said by officials to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads and hitting most Indian cities.

A scion of a modest family from India's Bhopal state, who loves poetry, flowers, and animals, he is caught in the subcontinent's current nuclear standoff that has rung alarm bells across the globe.

Addul Qadeer Khan

Khan is a metallurgist by training, but it had taken a great deal more than a doctorate in metallurgy to provide Pakistan with the atomic bomb. It had taken a sound knowledge of atomic physics, engineering, and management. It had taken a degree of patriotism. It had taken monumental self-absorption and egotism. His efforts and dedication to make Pakistan a nuclear power was a result when he saw the fall of East Pakistan back in 1971, when Pakistan was trapped in a political crisis and India was involved in arming the rebellions "The Muktee Bahinee" in East Pakistan to fight against the Pakistani troops.

Khan, 62, migrated to Pakistan in 1952, following millions of other Muslims who came here from India at the subcontinent's partition at independence from Britain in 1947.

Precocious, he was able to breeze through science courses first in Pakistan, then in Europe, ultimately earning a doctorate from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium in 1972.

That year, he went to work for the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory, or FDO, in Amsterdam. FDO was a subsidiary of a Dutch firm, Verenigde Machine-Fabrieken, which in turn worked closely with one of western Europe’s most important nuclear facilities: URENCO.

Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto urged Khan to return home in 1976 to be given the job to organize Pakistan's nuclear program that could give an answer to India's first nuclear explosion of 1974.

"It was, be precise, on July 31, 1976, when the first seeds, real seeds of Pakistan's nuclear program were sown," Khan recalled in one of his newspaper articles.

"Kahuta is an all-Pakistani effort and is a symbol of a poor and developing country's determination and defiance to submitting to blackmail and bullying."

He was rewarded for that patriotism by being made the head of a research institute that was named after him: the Abdul Qadeer Khan Research Laboratories at Kahuta all the research work (at Kahuta) was the result of Dr. Khan's innovation and struggle.


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