Abdul Qadeer Khan wants youth to force change

Published: August 31, 2012
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Abdul Qadeer Khan prays after addressing a lawyers' convention in Rawalpindi near Islamabad in this January 9, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Abdul Qadeer Khan prays after addressing a lawyers' convention in Rawalpindi near Islamabad in this January 9, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya, may try his hand at politics to rescue a country he says has become worse than a banana republic.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, still lionised as the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb despite his fall from grace in 2004, may have some appeal ahead of elections due next year.

Many Pakistanis are deeply frustrated with their leaders over everything from chronic power cuts to their strategic ties with the United States, and they might welcome someone seen as a national hero on the political stage.

“I want to bring change and help the people of Pakistan, like I did back in 1974, when India test fired its nukes,” Khan told Reuters in an interview at his heavily guarded Islamabad home. “Now, today, once again this country needs my help.”

Khan’s new movement, Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Pakistan, or Movement For Protection of Pakistan, is urging the South Asian nation’s youth to be heard through national elections and break the stranglehold of traditional political dynasties.

The 76-year-old scientist says Pakistan’s young people should stop wasting time watching “useless” current affairs talk shows which dominate the airwaves every night and purge the country of corrupt politicians through the ballot box.

“The youth is 47 percent of this country’s population, they can bring the change,” said Khan, sitting in his study, near swords given to him by heads of state hanging on walls and Urdu poetry books on shelves.

“They should realise the importance of their vote and select those people in the next election who are clean.”

Khan was at the centre of the world’s biggest nuclear proliferation scandal in 2004 when he confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

He was pardoned but placed under house arrest in 2004 by then president Pervez Musharraf. The government relaxed restrictions on him in 2009 but his movements are still limited.

There is a widespread belief in Pakistan that Khan was the victim of an international conspiracy against the country’s nuclear programme.

Pakistani authorities deny any connection to Khan’s smuggling ring but have never let foreigners question him.     Many Pakistanis still hail Khan as the man who enabled Pakistan to respond to arch-rival India’s nuclear detonations with its own tests in 1998.

He fondly remembers working on Pakistan’s nuclear programme in the 1980s and how then military ruler General Zia ul-Haq once kissed him on his forehead when significant progress was made.

Khan said his movement would register as an official political party if it gained momentum. So far, it is winning support from businessmen in the commercial capital, Karachi, as well as from a religious party, students and others.

“Lots of army officers … a large number, still believe that I have done my best for this country, they respect me,” he said.

“They know if I were not there, (the) Indians would have beaten them now.”

Khan appeared healthy and said he gets a check-up every day from a nurse. He said he gets up at 6:30 a.m., never misses prayers and reads newspapers and makes calls. In the afternoon, friends often drop by to see him, he said.

Broken promises

Khan seems determined to change what many see as a stale political landscape that has held the country back.

Civilian leaders are often preoccupied by power struggles or tension with the military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 65-year history.

Critics say little attention is paid to a dizzying array of problems including a fragile economy, a stubborn Taliban insurgency, poor roads and infrastructure and an inadequate school system.

“All the previous promises have not come true. People are jobless. They have no food to feed themselves. This country is even worse then a banana republic,” said Khan.

Pakistan, created out of Muslim-majority areas in colonial India 65 years ago, could face the same fate as Arab states which were swept by revolts if more effective leaders were not elected, he said.

“Let me tell you to come out of the fantasy that nothing will happen to this country because it was conceived in the name of God,” he said.

“All the Arab and Middle East and other Muslim states were created with the same ideology but what happened to them?”

Khan says he has received invitations to lecture at universities and he intends to make road trips to visit supporters.

“So far, 1.5 million people from all over Pakistan have contacted us,” he said.

It’s not clear whether Khan will manage to translate his status as a national hero into votes, especially since he does no have total freedom of movement.

“I am at the moment only enticing people to come forward and bring change through their vote by selecting good people,” said Khan, who has a dog and nine cats, and feeds dozens of wild monkeys that descend on his garden and pool from nearby hills.

“It looks difficult but if people start joining bit-by-bit it can get successful.”

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Reader Comments (49)

  • Khan of Cape Town
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:06PM

    “The Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya”….
    Even if the above statement is true, how much are you serving the nation with such statements, ET?

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  • Muhammad Hassan
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:16PM

    Why is Khan so obsessed with India? He can’t go two sentences without mentioning India and “his accomplishments”.

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  • Parvez
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:16PM

    …its time you retired from public life. Why is it our leaders never know when to call it a day ?

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  • Kaleem
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:19PM

    Change yourself, Don’t proliferate anything to your neighbours, or neighbours of neighbour, or friends of neighbours :)Recommend

  • asad
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:19PM

    …like changing the laws of thermodynamics???

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  • Shamy
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:22PM

    Wow thats a first….He wants Youth to bring change….isnt that what Imran Khan’s stance has been since day 1 ?

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  • kanwal
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:22PM

    First of all, we should stop calling him scientist because he has proved on live shows that he is not. Secind, if the “change” you brought to this country means something to me, it means i have nothing left to eat than the grass you and your your likes condemned us too. I think you are delusional and should be in an asylum if not in jail. So spare us youth, go to nearest mosque and pray that may your afterlife is not so full of frauds and cheating your own countrymen.

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  • FJ
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:47PM

    The start is could be truth but completely biased reporting!

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  • Aug 31, 2012 - 1:53PM

    I don’t know what 1.5 million people is he talking about. The youth have so far rejected his notion of “saving Pakistan”.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tehreek-e-Tahafuz-e-Pakistan/261448923880450Recommend

  • Z.Khan
    Aug 31, 2012 - 1:56PM

    Dr Khan is mistaken. Youth of Pakistan is fed up of characterless leadership and he is no exception to it. His claim of an atom bomb was not an invention but was just assembly of various parts which should always not to be boasted. Further he was not the only one who did it rather was a big team for the achievement. Selling of certain secrets to other countries for petty financial gains has totally damage the credentials of Dr Khan so my advise to him is to relax and spend his last days with little respect what nation still gives him.

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  • ahmad
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:00PM

    Clearly this guy needs help. Many Khan’s need help now a days……..

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  • Bookie
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:03PM

    Once more guys,
    Yess we KHAN!!!!

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  • Sir King Kong Bunty
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:04PM

    He is saying the truth. After all he is from Bhopal…and what is Bhopal known for the most…ah wait is the Bhopal Gas Disaster?

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  • Rahul
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:12PM

    Lets be practical. AQ Khan does exaggerated a bit.He is a Metallurgist for Christ sake not a atomic scientist. The real atomic scientists do not exaggerate everyday on Pak Media(the ones who did the work in Pak). Assume Pakistan had no nuclear weapons and India attacked. Is Pakistani Army so inept that they have to depend completely on atomic weapons? The US attacked iraq a country one fourth the size of PAK and 18% of its population and what was the result. No country can invade and hold onto a country of more than 100 million if the people keep fighting the invaders. Nuclear weapons did not make the life of an ordinary north korean better or did not save the USSR. ( East Pakistan was a foregone conlcusion because the people welcomed the “invaders”) A country dependent on nukes thinking nuclear weapons will bring security are only deluding themselves and the people. (India Included)

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  • THE
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:17PM

    I have great respect for Dr. AQ Khan but Dr.Khan’s becoming the grandfather that you wish didn’t do what he’s doing….
    He’s too old to be entering the dirty politices of Pakistan at 76 and the other thing is that after the 1990s Kashmir struggle and Kargil war, the dynamics of Pakistani culture are changing. We are not the same Pakistan that only had one enemy in the world, the militants that target our bases and kill our citizens without much resistance are our real enemies now and Dr. Sahab has not realized that yet.

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  • Haris Chaudhry
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:56PM

    Give us a break Doc.. You and your ilk has given us nothing but bloated expenditures on defence, false sense of protection, India centric policies and a lot of delusions.

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  • Mujtaba
    Aug 31, 2012 - 2:57PM

    “The Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya..”
    The statement on its own shows how much our media & journalist are being controlled and funded by the Jewish Lobby! This is disguising but then again what else will one expect from ET!!!!

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  • Aug 31, 2012 - 3:12PM

    more laptops.

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  • Asad
    Aug 31, 2012 - 3:22PM

    Shame on “ET”

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  • maryam
    Aug 31, 2012 - 3:29PM

    Khan Sahib please join PTI. You are an asset like Sheikh Rasheed. We are with you.

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  • Roflcopter
    Aug 31, 2012 - 3:30PM

    ET should not copy/paste biased news reports from western media.

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  • Riaz Khan
    Aug 31, 2012 - 3:59PM

    Do us a favor & go back on a one way ticket to Bhopal!

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  • b.M
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:01PM

    ” The Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya”

    Did not read the article any further because this opening line made it very clear the mindset of the author. Dear Author, even if he sold nuclear secrets to the countries mentioned, he could NEVER have done it alone (without the support of the Establishment and the Agencies)

    ..kthxbye

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  • Salem
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:03PM

    Another of our so discredited leader and someone who lacked willpower to avoid doing illegal activities..

    And if he is innocent.. We need progressive and internal looking leaders.. We have enough leaders who have ruled/fooled us using paranoia and conspiracy (politicians, bureaucratic, army) ..

    We need leader who looks inside Pakistan for solution (it requires tremendous hard work) rather than blame America, India, Jews for all our problems.. (Sadly IK is doing the same)

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  • Lairt
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:10PM

    If I pick up something that is not owned by me, and then hand it to someone else without their consent, what does it make me? (Most people would say a thief).
    I then live like a king, answer to no-one, and amass tremendous wealth, what does that make me?
    I then use some journalists to create a personality cult that I have saved my country?
    I am still not satisfied by all this, so I repeat my old behavior and start selling more things which once again don’t belong to me, landing my country in deep, deep trouble, so what does that make me?
    I end up being pardoned, but instead of thanking my lucky stars, I come on TV, spewing bitterness, bigotry and unscientific nonsense so much so that people start doubting whether my country even has ‘the bomb’?

    Dr Khan and the elements that ‘inflict’ him upon us should realize that its time for him to retire with whatever dignity he still has left. He is, however right about one thing, and that is use your vote wisely. If anyone tries to offer him to you, that tells you a lot about them as well!

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  • Waqas
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:12PM

    I sometimes feel that AQ tries to claim the whole credit for Pakistan’s nuclear program…there is no doubt that he had an important role…but there were other very important people…like Dr Munir Ahmed Khan…the unsung hero of the nuclear program…AQ should use we rather than I while describing his accomplishments regarding the nuclear program……

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  • mr. righty rightist
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:19PM

    “I want to bring change and help the people of Pakistan, like I did back in 1974, when India test fired its nukes,”

    So the plan is…A Q Khan will steal some good brains from Europe and smuggle them to Pakistan. He will claim that they are the children of Pakistan and try to run the country using them. Once done, he will sell those people to other failing countries.

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  • ahmed
    Aug 31, 2012 - 4:53PM

    ET … should be named Express Tribune India Ltd…This newspaper publishes in Pakistan but writes as if it is instrument of another state to malign Pakistan.

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  • Zalim singh
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:06PM

    and make them invent items like water cars?Recommend

  • Hataf Shahab
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:07PM

    It’s obvious h did sell nuclear secrets HE CONFESSED. Bring it on Khan! I am ready to beat u to dust.

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  • Ezaz
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:22PM

    There couldn’t be more humiliating wording for our national hero than used in this piece.
    Dear reporter, you might not be aware that Mr. Khan is known for working for Pakistan’s nuclear program. Secondly, he did a great job by helping other countries in nuclear programs because there has to be someone to stand in the way of colonial powers. Only those countries make hue and cry, day and night, which have the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world and have used those weapons to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people. So sick of Western propaganda.

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  • AQEEL
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:23PM

    Sir with respect you are too late youth are already with IK only option make allaince with IK or join PTI

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  • Samuel
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:25PM

    I would like to star Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan in a remake of Dr Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. This man is gonna take us to the brink of Earth’s destruction.

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  • Muhammad Hassan
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:27PM

    To all the people saying that ET is baised: gentlemenn, “Dr” Qadeer has himself admitted to selling nuclear secrets. On national TV. Or was that a Jew in disguise?Recommend

  • Bala
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:53PM

    AQ Khan is an inspiration for all. When your heart is at the right place, you can get that water-front home before no-mans lake! Go patriots get your share!

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  • Pakistani
    Aug 31, 2012 - 5:56PM

    “”The Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya””
    Shame on you ET,SHAMEEE ON YOU..is that the best introduction you could come up with for Dr.Abdul Qadeer Khan??
    You people forget he lives in the hearts of millions of Pakistani’s..
    Your filthy statements disgust me..

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  • Bloom
    Aug 31, 2012 - 6:06PM

    This is very sad to note the use of words like force, tsunami and bloody revolution being used by Dr. AQ, Imran Khan, Jamaat e ISlami and Sh. Rasheed

    Please save this country from these kind of revolutions

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  • Cautious
    Aug 31, 2012 - 6:48PM

    A nuclear proliferater who big claim to fame was that he stole technology from his Eurorpean employer. Some national hero. If he does get into office I doubt the establishment will allow him to travel overseas where he might blab about who else was helping him sell nuke technology.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Aug 31, 2012 - 6:52PM

    Don’t publish my comments if you want but I refuse to listen to nuclear proliferator, fake ‘scientist’ who doesn’t even understand the basic laws of thermodynamics and and a person who tells blatant lies on TV (Obaidullah Aleem is an Ahamdi Bhopali when AQ Khan claimed no Ahmadis within Bhopalis)Recommend

  • Ali
    Aug 31, 2012 - 7:30PM

    Politics became a big business in Pakistan….everyone sees money in it and jumps right into it…no qualification/reputation required, all robbers, thief, killers, rapist, cheaters, terrorists Welcome…no questions asked !

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  • Cautious
    Aug 31, 2012 - 7:51PM

    @Pakistani

    “”The Pakistani scientist who sold
    nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea
    and Libya”” Shame on you ET,SHAMEEE ON
    YOU..is that the best introduction you
    could come up with for Dr.Abdul Qadeer
    Khan??

    Don’t shoot the messenger – are you saying that ET statement is incorrect or are you just embarrassed by Khan’s actions?

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  • Babbarsher Khan
    Aug 31, 2012 - 8:14PM

    This guy is a living proof why Pakistan is a failed state or becoming one very soon! A corrupt and megalomaniac mind shamelessly extorts youth of Pakistan to be pious and he still gets large audience! There is still no answer, why a guy at zenith of his career and who claims that he never feared anything and anyone was “forced” into admitting his guilt on national TV. “You have to come out clean on this before you could earn any trust of non gullible crowd, Mr. self-styled Father of “Islamic” nuclear bomb!” People gauged your intellect when you repeatedly appeared on the TV to support “the invention” of another great “Islamic scientist” Agha Waqar!

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  • G. Din
    Aug 31, 2012 - 11:43PM

    @Pakistani:
    @Ezaz:
    Since you are so outraged at various comments berating Dr. Khan, can you tell me why he is any different from those Pakistanis amongst you who pirate Indian movies and music and computer programs from around the world and whose such efforts are sold to Pakistanis for a profit? He is absolutely like them who committed larceny of intellectual property owned by others. There is probably a warrant outstanding against him. He most certainly cannot return to Europe. Are all those pirates your national heroes? If not, why not?
    He is no Oppenheimer or Einstein or Edward Teller!

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  • Arif Mohd.
    Sep 1, 2012 - 12:38AM

    @Muhammad Hassan:

    A.Q. Khan is wanted by Interpol for stealing secrets from a Dutch atomic energy plant where he worked. He stole blueprints and brought them to Pakistan. You actually do not need a rocket scientist to tell you that once you have such blueprints/designs, you have the “key” to unlock the door to nuclear weapons, often tarned initially as nuclear energy for “peaceful purpose”. Khan is not a nuclear scientist, as many would like to believe, but a metalurgy engineer. Khan’s “atomic bazar”, which was supported even by many Pakistani politicians, gained notoreity when he started a clandestine trade in nuclear materials with rogue nations such as Iran, Libya, North Korea, etc. offering them the stolen technology in return for cash and other favours. I shudder to think what will happen to an already disoriented and self-destructive Pakistan, thanks to the distorted and perverted religious views of the mullahs and their mobs, if a man like Q.A. Khan takes over the helm of affairs in that country. Besides, this man is so cholerically obsessed about India. He would lead Pakistan on the path of another war which will be destructive for Pakistan and contribute to its extensive fragmentation. Islam has NEVER been a glue to stick a country together, no matter how strong the glue. You see today the examples of many Arab states which cannot be held together by Islam.. Pakistan would have, otherwise, not “lost” East Pakistan (Bangladesh today) if the glue could hold the nation together despite the huge differences between West and the former East Pakistan. Just pray, this man does not get elected President at any time.

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  • Tahir
    Sep 1, 2012 - 7:53AM

    @kanwal:
    He is scientist of thermodynamics :-)Recommend

  • Tahir
    Sep 1, 2012 - 7:59AM

    @Rahul:
    He is scientist of thermodynamics :-( In actual fact he is characterless person stealing / selling / grabbing work of others / dishonest person

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  • Tahir
    Sep 1, 2012 - 8:01AM

    @Mujtaba:
    He himself confessed it on TV. Don’t be more loyal than the king himself :-(

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  • Tahir
    Sep 1, 2012 - 8:05AM

    @Arif Mohd.:
    Don’t worry, he cannot be elected as member of village council.

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  • Ijaz Mir
    Sep 1, 2012 - 9:56AM

    Pakistani politicians have looted the country with both hands. It is now A Q Khans turn, he could not collect enough by selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya, may try his hand at politics and get at par with Zardari and Sharif brothers and EX generals. Ya Allah save us from these politicians.

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