COMMENT : Is A Q Khan really the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme? — Yasser Latif Hamdani
Why or how a metallurgist like Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan came to be known as the father of our bomb. What was his role essentially in nuclear weapons production?
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is our self-styled ‘Baba-e-Bum’ and ‘Mohsin-e-Pak’. His extraordinary claim as a nuclear scientist is accepted carte blanche by the youth from the middle classes. Someone has to tell the truth some time. Dr Khan is neither a nuclear scientist nor the father of our nuclear programme. He is however by his own admission a traitor who sold nuclear secrets to various countries of the world, bringing infamy to Pakistan.
What is a nuclear scientist? The father of the US atomic bomb (and therefore atomic bomb in general) was J Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist. The father of the Indian nuclear programme, Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha was also a physicist. How is it then that metallurgist like Dr A Q Khan has come to be known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme or nuclear bomb? Truth be told there are only two people that can be considered pioneers in nuclear programme related research in Pakistan. First is Dr Munir Ahmad Khan of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) who was the real hero of 1998’s nuclear tests and who detonated Chaghi II, a plutonium device, which was much stronger than the uranium devices of Chaghi I. The second person is someone whose contribution to human understanding in Physics is so much more fundamental and greater than any of Pakistan’s other scientists, that to even associate him with a weapons’ programme is to belittle him. He is Dr Abdus Salam who was instrumental in setting up the PAEC.