Remember Dr Abdul Qadir Khan? The ‘father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme’ seems to have been inspired by his counterpart in India, who served as president a few years ago.
Out of the public eye for some time now, the controversial scientist says he now wants to pursue a career in politics. And the chances are that he will join Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI). In fact, Imran Khan in meeting earlier this week offered the scientist to join PTI as the patron of the party.
“I would love to join PTI – but on one condition,” said AQ Khan in a chat with The Express Tribune. He said he had asked Imran Khan to “To pursue real politics to change Pakistan’s fate.”
AQ Khan said that he has a soft corner for PTI’s leadership – “I will support PTI as I believe it is the only party with a ray of hope for the oppressed.”
“People of Pakistan want change. They want to get rid of traditional politicians as they always let them down by [practicing] corrupt politics.”
While a formal announcement is still yet to be made, AQ Khan, who also writes columns, has said that he will advocate the party and its cause in his articles.
Though the signing, when it happens, will be another high-profile one for PTI, it remains to be seen what this translates into in terms of results on the ground. Despite a possible ideological boost, much like a number of the party’s signings have indeed delivered, the electoral value remains untested.
Then there is also the international controversy caused by AQ Khan’s alleged nuclear proliferation network – something that the PTI will have to consider if it is to become a mainstream player that will deal with the international leaders on the global scale.
But the party seems upbeat. “PTI’s doors are always open for AQ Khan,” said PTI’s Senior Vice President Dr Shireen Mazari – welcoming AQ Khan’s praise and support for the party.
Analysts seem unconvinced – but point out that the right-wing appeal of the PTI will increase with the addition of AQ Khan, who is celebrated as a national hero by ultra-nationalists despite the serious allegations of criminal proliferation.
Dr Ayesha Siddiqa was of the belief that AQ Khan would sit alongside other non-electable old guard that has joined PTI. “The scientist, of course, will contribute something – but probably not in the longer perspective.”
Harris Khalique commenting on the pairing of the two Khans, said that the PTI and its chairman was whipping up a certain kind of conservative nationalist emotion which he thinks is his only way to grab power.
Khalique was also of the opinion that AQ Khan’s claim to be the “father of the bomb” is controversial within the country and he is seen as responsible for proliferation – something he has already confessed to before being pardoned by the President of Pakistan in 2004.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012.