ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s notable nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan – also known as the ‘father of Pakistan’s atomic weapons programme’ – passed away in Islamabad on Sunday, at the age of 85.
The funeral prayers of the deceased scientist were offered at Faisal Mosque with state honours, APP reported. He was later in the evening laid to rest in H-8 graveyard.
Dr Qadeer had contracted Covid-19 last month and had initially remained under treatment at the Al-Shifa Hospital and later at the Military Hospital.
He had been moved back home after being successfully treated for the deadly infection. However, last night Dr Qadeer’s condition suddenly worsened. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he breathed his last early morning today.
Earlier, the government decided to give Dr Qadeer a state funeral. In this regard, a meeting was summoned by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid at the Capital Development Authority (CDA) headquarters to finalise the funeral arrangements for Dr Qadeer.
Born in 1936 in Bhopal, India, Dr Qadeer immigrated along with his family to Pakistan in 1947, after the partition of the sub-continent. He is considered the pioneer of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Dr Qadeer led the country’s nuclear programme for some 25 years and is considered a national hero. He also founded the Khan Research Laboratories in 1976 and was both its chief scientist and director for many years. He was awarded Nishan-i-Imtiaz for his services to the country.
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the funeral prayers of Dr Qadir would be offered at Faisal Mosque at 3:30 pm. He had added that the government has alternate burial arrangements at the H-8 graveyard in addition to Faisal Mosque. Dr AQ Khan’s daughter will take the final decision on the site of the grave, he added.
However, in a statement issued in the afternoon, Rashid said after consultation with Dr Qadeer’s family, the deceased scientist will be laid to rest in a cemetery in sector H-8 as per his last will. The local administration has been directed to dig another grave in the said graveyard, he added.
The national flag of Pakistan will be flown at half-mast, the minister said, adding that the demise has left the entire nation bereaved. “The prime minister has directed to bury Dr Qadeer with full [state] honours,” the interior minister said, adding that the ministers have been directed to attend the funeral prayers as well.
According to the minister, the joint chiefs of staff and representatives of all four armed forces will also attend the funeral. The Police, Rangers and FC have been directed to take strict security measures, he added.