By Yasser Latif Hamdani
We champion Baba-e-Bum Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a fraud and a quack scientist, as the father of the nuclear bomb.
Can he really be called the “father of the Islamic Bomb” as some wish to call him? In order to be the metaphorical father or mother of some idea or achievement, one should be deemed to play a central role in it so much so that if the said “father” or “mother” was removed from the scene, the achievement of the same would become impossible. Can the same be said of Dr. A Q Khan? Was there no nuclear program before Dr. A Q Khan? If A Q Khan had not emerged on the scene would Pakistan not have made the atomic bomb? The answer is no. A Q Khan’s sole contribution to the whole thing is to introduce uranium enrichment as an alternative to plutonium enrichment. What does that mean exactly? It means that A Q Khan is as much the father of the bomb as the fellow who came up with the idea of using CNG as alternative fuel can be called the “father of the automobile”. The whole idea is preposterous to say the least but it also whitewashes over the real contributions of Pakistan’s true heroes.
In order to determine the real father of Pakistan’s “Islamic” bomb, one must consider whose role in the whole enterprise was the most indispensible? Consider for example the role of Dr. Abdus Salam – the man Dr. A Q Khan routinely abuses in his columns. Dr. Salam started campaigning for a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the 1950s. In 1965, Dr. Salam established the Pakistan Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology and helped get the plutonium reactor off the ground. In 1971 he brought from the US, all available scientific literature on the Manhattan project including the critical calculations required for the bomb, during the 1971 war. It was Salam who in 1972 arranged the Multan Meeting which essentially kickstarted the Pakistani effort to get the bomb. Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist of little renown or competence, was at the time not even on the scene. Salam also organized the theoretical physics division and the mathematical physics division which was to serve as the nursery for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Even after his fall out with Bhutto over the 1974 amendment, Salam continued to advise nuclear scientists in Pakistan. It was Salam who in 1978 laid the foundations of Sino-Pak industrial nuclear cooperation. Given that each of these efforts was a pillar on which the nuclear program was built, one would say that Dr. Salam’s role was as central to Pakistan’s efforts in acquiring nuclear technology as Jinnah’s role was to the creation of the country.
Three other gentlemen who were integral to Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions were Munir Ahmad Khan, Riazuddin Ahmad and Masood Ahmad. It was they who executed the plan that Dr. Abdus Salam had so carefully laid for Pakistan. Dr. Salam was motivated by his staunch Pakistani nationalism and not for glory. His nationalism however was not one of isolation. He wanted to see Pakistan as the leader in scientific community and not just a mere nuclear power. It is for this reason that Abdus Salam recruited as many Pakistani scientists for CERN and International Center of Theoretical Physics by starting a special Pakistani associateship program.
Meanwhile Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was early on employed as an inspector for weights and measures, was trained as a metallurgist and not a nuclear physicist. Yet it does not stop him from claiming credit for things he was only an incidental part of. His god awful columns in Jang Media Group which is in the news for all the wrong reasons are indicative of “scholarship” and “scientific credentials”. One could also mention that the Urdu versions of his articles are far more incendiary than his English ones. Most recently he has gone out of his way to brand Dr. Salam, Dr Munir Ahmad Khan and every other physicist linked to the nuclear program as “CIA agents”. This coming from a self-confessed nuclear proliferator who sold Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran and then later unjustifiably accused the Chief of Pakistan Army of being involved in it is just rich.
Dr A Q Khan, far from being the “Muhsin-e-Pakistan”, is a traitor not just because he sold Pakistan’s nuclear secrets but also because he routinely attacks the creation of Pakistan from the Ahrari angle. His anti-Pakistan rants as embodied by his promotion of a forged interview of Maulana Azad are part of the record and I have referred to it in my columns in Daily Times and else where. On October 28, 2013, Abdul Qadeer Khan wrote an article in which he first produced an inaccurate quotation from Lord Macaulay and then proceeded to quote the forgery by Shorish Kashmiri. The quote from Macaulay that he produced was as under:
“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such aliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”
This is a well known forgery but enough for a liar and a crook like Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan to reproduce. Here is the original speech by Macaulay. Subsequently he serialized the entire interview that Azad is supposed to have given to Shorish Kashmiri which is nothing but shameless slander against Quaid-e-Azam and the Pakistan Movement, asking rhetorically if what Maulana Azad had said was not true. I have already written in some detail about the forgery here.
And who can forget that the great “Muhsin-e-Pakistan” endorsed the Water Car which magically challenges the laws of Physics as we know it. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy recalls:
For his part, Hamid Mir asked Dr AQ Khan if there was any chance of this (the water car) being a fraud. The response was clear: “Main nay apnay level per investigate kiya hai aur koi fraud waraud nahi kiya hai” (I have investigated the matter and there is no fraud involved).
In his Urdu version of the article “Unsung Heroes” titled “Faqeed-ul-misal Atomi hero” this joker – Dr A Q Khan- slanders Munir Ahmad Khan and says that Munir Ahmad Khan went to a third rate school in North Carolina and was under-qualified to lead the Nuclear Program having passed only an “electrical course”. This is a lie that is easily proven false. Wikipedia has a well sourced account of Munir Ahmad Khan’s academic qualifications as well as his work experience:
Studies in United States
In 1953, Munir Ahmad Khan began post-graduate research work at the Illinois Institute of Technology which continued until 1956 during which time he also received preliminary training in atomic energy. In 1956, he was selected for the Atoms for Peace Program and participated in the Nuclear Engineering training program of the International School of Nuclear Science and Engineering (ISNSE), at the North Carolina State University and the Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois where he earned a M.Sc. in Nuclear engineering.
In 1957, he was part of the third batch of ISNSE’s graduates who had specialized in reactor physics and nuclear engineering. The Argonne National Laboratory were operated by the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the University of Chicago where, on 2 December 1942 a team of scientists achieved the first self-sustaining chain reaction in a nuclear reactor, which is considered to be a crucial step in the development of the first Atomic bomb.
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed, not to be confused with Ishtiaq Ahmed of Stockholm who like Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan suffers from his own demons, writes:
It was Munir Ahmad Khan who initiated the Kahuta Enrichment Project, as Project-706, under Bashiruddin Mahmud, in 1974. He completed the feasibility study, site selection for the plant, construction of its civil works, recruitment of the staff, and procurement of the necessary materials by 1976. PAEC under Munir remained in charge of the overall bomb programme, of all the 23 out of 24 difficult steps before and after uranium enrichment, and he continued to provide technical support to the enrichment program all along.
PAEC under him went on to develop the first generation of nuclear weapons in the 1980s. Munir started work on the bomb itself in a meeting called in March 1974, in which the secret ‘Wah Group’ was assigned the task of initiating work on it. The Chaghi tunnels were constructed under him and were ready by 1980. Munir successfully conducted the first ‘cold’ tests in March 1983, and the 1998 ‘hot’ tests were their confirmation. Perhaps his greatest contribution is enabling Pakistan to acquire complete mastery over the nuclear fuel cycle, which is critical to the development and success of any nuclear programme.
When in 1976 Canada suspended the supply of heavy water fuel and spare parts for the Karachi nuclear power plant, he took up the challenge and using indigenous resources produced the Feed for KANUPP, which is why the Muslim world’s first nuclear power plant is still running successfully. He also upgraded the research reactor at PINSTECH and laid the groundwork in the 1980s for the 300 MW nuclear power plant at Chashma.
PAEC under Munir was also actively developing the plutonium programme, in spite of the cancellation of the French reprocessing contract, and went ahead with developing an indigenous pilot reprocessing plant, which was completed by 1981, known as the ‘New Labs’ in PINSTECH. PAEC did not forego the plutonium route, and was successful at developing the indigenous plutonium production reactor at Khushab. This was driven during Munir Khan’s 19-year tenure at PAEC.
Unlike Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the metallurgist, Munir Ahmad Khan was a true man of science.
Then there is the great Riazuddin. Dr. Hoodbhoy writing in the Newsweek on the “Man who designed Pakistan’s Bomb” wrote:
When Riazuddin—that was his full name—died in September at age 82 in Islamabad, international science organizations extolled his contributions to high-energy physics. But in Pakistan, except for a few newspaper lines and a small reference held a month later at Quaid-e-Azam University, where he had taught for decades, his passing was little noticed. In fact, very few Pakistanis have heard of the self-effacing and modest scientist who drove the early design and development of Pakistan’s nuclear program. Riazuddin never laid any claim to fathering the bomb—a job that requires the efforts of many—and after setting the nuclear ball rolling, he stepped aside. But without his theoretical work, Pakistan’s much celebrated bomb makers, who knew little of the sophisticated physics critically needed to understand a fission explosion, would have been shooting in the dark. A bomb maker and peacenik, conformist and rebel, quiet but firm, religious yet liberal, Riazuddin was one of a kind. Mentored by Dr. Abdus Salam, his seminal role in designing the bomb is known to none except a select few.
Unlike Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Salam, Munir Ahmad Khan and Raziuddin Ahmad never promoted themselves even when their contributions to Pakistan’s cause were far greater. It is a shame therefore that this fraud and liar A Q Khan, smuggler extraordinaire and nuclear fuel blackmarketer, a traitor to the nation, is now attempting to distort the facts and slander their memories.
UPDATE: One thing I failed to mention earlier was that this “baba-e-bum” and “Mohsin-e-Pakistan” A Q Khan was the person who at the height of the “Brasstacks Crisis” decided to give Pakistan’s game plan away by telling Kuldip Nayyar that Pakistan would retaliate with Nuclear Weapons, leading to sanctions. Was A Q Khan just being stupid or was he the agent of some other power working against the interest of Pakistan, it is hard to say.