“The Punjab government’s laptops initiative would have had a greater impact if it had built computer laboratories in all cities and provided them internet and printers rather than distributing computers among students,” said Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan speaking at Punjab University on Wednesday.
Dr Khan urged students to do their best for the improvement of the country and asked them to vote for the right leaders in the elections to put things on the right track. “You should also learn about your culture and literature. Nations that forget their culture lose their identity.”
“Seeing the enthusiasm and passion of the youth, I am thinking why not contest next election from Lahore. I have great affection for this city,” Dr Khan said.
Speaking at Faisal Auditorium, Dr Khan said, “Punjab is where some development is going on. Shahbaz Sharif is an energetic and hardworking politician. My advice is that Nawaz Sharif should look after the family business and leave politics to Shahbaz Sharif.”
Dr Khan said it was inaccurate that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had invited him to Pakistan. “I wrote him a letter myself. After India became a nuclear power, I wrote to him that Pakistan wouldn’t exist in another 10 years if no action was taken. He called me and I gave some proposals. When I came back next year in 1975, there had been no progress on the nuclear programme. I told Bhutto Sahib and he called General Imtiaz and berated him. Bhutto Sahib then asked me to come and live in Pakistan.”
He said he was visiting Pakistan on a vacation and when he told his wife about moving back, she asked whether he could help make Pakistan a nuclear power. “I said nobody could do this other than myself.” He said his wife understood and they stayed on in Pakistan.
“Six months later, the nuclear programme was made a separate project. Scientists from Germany, Holland and England had spent 20 years and $2 billion to achieve what I was trying to achieve alone with my team in Pakistan.”
Dr Khan said, “We started in July ‘76 and in April ‘78 we did our first uranium enrichment. In 1984, I wrote to General Ziaul Haq that we could do a nuclear blast test. This programme was totally self reliant. We did in Kahuta what no other laboratory in the world had done.”
He said, “We made an atomic bomb taking a third route, other than plutonium or diffusion. Our total budget per year was $25 million at time when a dollar was exchanged at Rs10. The world was astonished that a country that did not even manufacture a needle had made nuclear weapons.”
He said the people in power had not cultivated the talent of the Pakistani people. “In 1982-83, I had proposed establishment of an automobile industry to help industrialisation. The proposal wasn’t accepted. How difficult could it be for scientists who can make nuclear bombs to make a small cell phone? But it needs a will.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2012.