ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's hero, notable nuclear physicist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan - also known as the 'father of Pakistan's nuclear program' died of COVID-19 complications leading to lung bleeding and failure in Islamabad on Sunday morning, at the age of 85.
The interior minister, Sheikh Rasheed said, the demise has left the entire nation bereaved. Upon the prime minister's direction, Dr. Qadeer was buried with full state honors in the capital's H-8 graveyard. High political and military officials attended the funeral prayers held at Faisal Mosque in the capital.
The national flag of Pakistan is being flown at half-mast in honor of the departed scientist.
Born in 1936 in Bhopal, India, Dr. Khan, and his family migrated to Pakistan after the partition of the sub-continent. He is considered the pioneer of the country's nuclear program. He graduated from Karachi in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Physics and pursued higher studies in Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium.
Dr. Qadeer was at the helm of the country's nuclear program for some 25 years and is considered a national hero. He also founded the Khan Research Laboratories in 1976 and remained its chief scientist and director for many years. He was the only Pakistani conferred with three civil awards, two Nishan-e-Imtiaz (the country's highest) and Hilal-e-Imtiaz.
President Dr. Arif Alvi has expressed his deep sorrow over the demise of Dr. Qadeer Khan on Sunday. In a condolence tweet, the President said that Dr. AQ Khan helped Pakistan develop "nation-saving nuclear deterrence."
Prime Minister Imran tweeted his grief over Dr. Qadeer's death. He said that the nation loved the nuclear scientist because of his "critical contributions" towards making Pakistan a nuclear power.
All three services chiefs expressed their heartfelt grief over the scientist's demise and paid tribute to his untiring efforts in making the country's defense unconquerable.
In 2004, Dr. Qadeer was kept under house arrest by the then government of military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf under the Security Act for allegedly transferring nuclear technology and centrifuges to other countries.
Later, he confessed to sending nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran, and Libya, in a video message, although he later retracted his statements and was released from custody in 2009.
In 2019, Dr. Qadeer had approached the Supreme Court over restrictions on his freedom of movement, saying that 'freedom of movement could not be abridged, curtailed or denied arbitrarily on mere liking or disliking and under the garb of reasonable restrictions".
The government monitored his movements over "security concerns" while Dr. AQ Khan had termed these threats to his life "exaggerated."