A Person who dedicated his entire life to his country, who identified Pakistan as a
Nuclear Power in the world. Brave & down to earth, Dr. ABDUL QADEER KHAN
By: Adnan Faisal / Isra Shams
A world-renowned nuclear scientist and metallurgical engineer, widely acclaimed as the “Founder and Father of Pakistan’s Nuclear Deterrence Program”. Brands Magazine pays tribute to this living legend by having the privilege of covering his exclusive interview. He has been honored with highest awards, degrees and titles notably: Mohsin-e-Pakistan, FPAS, D. Eng, D. Sc, Hilal-e-Imtiaz, and Nishan-e-Imtiaz.
NO ONE CAN BUY THE LOVE AND AFFECTION THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME BY THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN.
BM: How and when did you start your professional career?
AQK: I completed my Ph. D Eng. Degree from Leuven, Belgium, after which I was offered a job in Amsterdam in one of the largest companies there. I worked as a consultant in nuclear technology with them, which is where I gained my initial expertise.
BM: Who was your inspiration that motivated you to stand where you are now?
AQK: The motivation to start a nuclear program was the Indian Explosion of a nuclear device on 18th May, 1974. I thought very carefully how I could help Pakistan. I wrote a letter to Mr. Bhutto outlining my ideas to which he then invited me to come and see him. We came on Christmas Eve, 1974, and I met him soon after. I was an unknown young scientist in Pakistan and so Mr. Bhutto asked me to explain the whole process to him which I did.
BM: What was the force that brought you back to Pakistan?
AQK: Love for my adopted motherland and the apprehension that the Indians could go for our jugular vein and could further dismember the country after their successful nuclear explosion.
BM: Which and when was the happiest moment of your life?
AQK: My happiest and most memorable day was our marriage day, the days our daughters were born and the day I received my Ph. D degree. Later of course, the day we carried out our successful nuclear explosions also stands out in my mind and was the culmination point of all our efforts.
BM: when you wrote letter to Bhutto, you were stranger to the Pakistan Atomic team and faced great opposition. However, Z. A. Bhutto forced you to stay back and assigned a secret mission. How do you feel about it?
AQK: Yes, I was young, unknown scientist in Pakistan. Munir Ahmad khan and his people did their best to make things difficult for me that we would return to Europe. Munir did not have a doctorate. He had a BSC. Eng degree from Lahore followed by a 9 month diploma in Electrical power from North Carolina State Polytechnic. He did not know the ABC of nuclear weapons and did not have any practical experience. It was a very tough time for my family and I. Munir gave me a contract with a remuneration of 3,000 and I did not receive my first salary until 6 months later. He gave us no car, driver or any other facilities. We lived in a house in F-8/1 which at that time, was at the very outer limit of Islamabad with no tarred roads or tarred lights.
BM: Did you have any regrets on your decision to leave a well-established job in Holland?
AQK: No, it was a well-considered decision meant to help my country and save its very existence and sovereignty.
BM: How did your wife support you in coming and settling down in Pakistan?
AQK: My wife, through a foreigner (and having two daughters to cope with) stood by me throughout, supported me and encouraged me not to give up. Without her love and support I would not have been able to cope with all the problems. We do sometimes have differences, but these are nothing serious.
BM: How did you react when you were home arrest during Musharraf era?
AQK: That was a very painful period for the whole family. The organization that benefited most from my services (the army) turned out to be most ungrateful and treated me like a traitor. They caused us mental torture as well as physical inconvenience. There were times when they wouldn’t even allow our daughters to see us. That still hurts to this day.
BM: Tell us about your successfully completed work on Industrial uranium and enrichment for peaceful nuclear technology?
AQK: The enrichment of uranium is a very difficult technology entailing investments of billions of dollars. The centrifuge technology in which I had become an expert during my work in Holland was the most advanced and had been developed by hundreds of scientist and engineers from Holland, Germany and England.
BM: You built a hospital by the name of Dr. AQ Khan Hospital. What are the various services provided there?
AQK: The services of general physicians, cardiologist, pediatric, gynecologist, ENT specialist, dermatologist, radiologist, pathologist, psychiatrist etc. are available, as are Color Doppler, ultrasound, digital X-ray, test laboratory, operation theatre and pharmacy. In short, it is a well-equipped, neat and clean facility and the local community is really happy with the services available.
BM: What was the objective behind Dr. A Q Khan Hospital Trust and what expectations do you have with it?
AQK: As we all are well aware that in our country the abatement of medical facilities is a huge challenge, which the government hospitals have failed to provide due to negligence, unhygienic conditions and overcrowding. For this purpose I along with my likeminded, kind-hearted friends and philanthropist set up a 300 bed welfare hospital in Lahore, near Minar-e-Pakistan. It is to be built on 16 acre Plot focusing on heart and lung diseases of Children. In order to meet the urgent needs of the local community, we have been running an Outdoor patients department, where thousands are receiving free treatment. Those willing and able to pay for the services are encouraged to do so and the money goes into the funds for free medical care. We hope to start construction of the main building within the few weeks and the project will be completed in about 2 years. The whole program is being run under a Trust. Mr. ShaukatVirk is working as the Executive Director of the Hospital. Being a charitable hospital I request Philanthropist to join hands with me and support this epic cause through your donations and Zakat.
BM: You are a symbol of Pride of the nation. What message do you have for the people of Pakistan?
AQK: No money can buy the love and affection that has been given to me by the people of Pakistan. And I cherish it with all my heart. And there is no religion bigger than Humanity and being a Muslim it’s our utmost responsibility to help the poor and needy people of our society. My message to the people especially to the young people is to work hard; dream big and never lose hope and put all your efforts in making Pakistan a prosperous country for the world to see.
THE MOTIVATION CAME FROM AN EXPLOSION OF A NUCLEAR DEVICE IN INDIA, WHICH GOT ME INTO THINKING OF HELPING PAKISTAN.