The atomic scientist, who spent the last years of his life under heavy guard, died in the capital Islamabad, where he had recently been hospitalised with Covid-19. Khan died after being transferred to the city’s KRL Hospital with lung problems, state-run broadcaster PTV reported.
He had been admitted to the same hospital in August with Covid-19.
But after being permitted to return home several weeks ago, he was transferred back after his condition deteriorated, it said. Khan was hailed a national hero for transforming Pakistan into the world’s first Islamic nuclear power and strengthening its clout against rival and fellow nuclear armed nation India.
The news of his death sparked an outpouring of grief and praise for Khan’s legacy.
“Deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan,” Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, stressing how loved the nuclear scientist had been in Pakistan due to “his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state”. “For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon.” The prime minister said the scientist would be buried at Islamabad’s majestic Faisal Mosque at his request. The funeral was scheduled to be held at 3:30 pm (1030 GMT) Sunday.
– Black market –
According to Islamic tradition, burials should take place as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours of death. Khan was lauded for bringing the nation up to par with India in the atomic field and making its defenses “impregnable”. But he found himself in the international crosshairs when he was accused of illegally sharing nuclear technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed in 2004, after the International Atomic Energy Agency — a UN watchdog — put Pakistani scientists at the centre of a global atomic black market.
Pardoned by the nation’s military ruler Pervez Musharraf, he was instead put under house arrest for five years. “I saved the country for the first time when I made Pakistan a nuclear nation and saved it again when I confessed and took the whole blame on myself,” Khan told AFP in an interview in 2008.
After his house arrest was lifted, he was granted some freedom of movement around the leafy capital, but always flanked by authorities, who he had to inform of his every move.
Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was born in Bhopal in pre-partition British-ruled India on April 1, 1936, was also behind the country’s aggressive missile development programme.
Deeply saddened by the passing of Dr A Q Khan. He was loved by our nation bec of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state. This has provided us security against an aggressive much larger nuclear neighbour. For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 10, 2021
انا للّٰہ وانا الیہ راجعون
Deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. Had known him personally since 1982.
He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard. May Allah bless him.
— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) October 10, 2021
ڈاکٹر عبدالقدیر خان کی وفات پر بہت دکھ ہوا۔ پاکستان کو ایٹمی طاقت بنانے میں ڈاکٹر صاحب کی محنت اور قابلیت کا اہم کردار رہا۔
انا للہ وانا الیہ راجعون
— Hammad Azhar (@Hammad_Azhar) October 10, 2021
Deeply grieved at the sad demise of Mohsin E Pakistan Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Sahib. Thank you Sir for everything you did for us Pakistanis. This nation will always remain indebted for your services. Dr Sahib was a true Hero of Pakistan and deserves State Funeral. pic.twitter.com/sF1WPyWJu3
— Syed Mustafa Kamal (@KamalPSP) October 10, 2021