Dr AQ Khan is an extremely gifted person, which is no surprise as he gave us the nuclear bomb. He is also outspoken, so much so that the state and the courts have to keep him out of circulation lest someone kidnaps him and tells him to speak. He is multi-dimensional as a person.
He wrote in Jang that his ancestors came down from Tirah in Khyber Agency and settled in Bhopal in central India. His mother was from Tirah while his father was an Uzbek who came to India with Sultan Shahabuddin Ghauri and defeated the Hindu Rajput ruler, Prithvi Raj. Dr Khan cleverly named his missile Ghauri after India named its missile Prithvi!
Do nuclear scientists believe in miracles? Dr Khan stated that in 1812, when the Marathas and the Rajputs attacked the state of Bhopal and the ruler could not fend off the invaders, the prime minister went to a majzub (religious person in trance) who pointed to a place where miraculously a lot of weapons were discovered.
Editor Khushnood Ali Khan, writing in Jinnah, stated that Dr Khan was his neighbour in Islamabad and was kind to him. At one function, he placed his hand on his shoulder and said there were only two Khans in Pakistan: one was Dr AQ Khan, the father of the bomb, and the other was Khushnood Ali Khan. The Khan left out was Imran Khan.
Dr Khan rates ghairat (honour) a high virtue of the state. It is an unscientific concept but he uses it to communicate with the nation. He wrote in Jang that many admired him for discussing the great national habit of ghairat (honour). The opposite of ghairat was be-ghairati or shamelessness — not having honour was equal to not having purity. Ayub Khan took Pakistan on the path of be-ghairati, a trend that was now firmly rooted in the habit of taking foreign help with a begging bowl.
Columnist Irfan Siddiqi wrote in Jang that he was in Doha when the tidings of Dr Khan’s liberation from house arrest “came flying on the saddled back of the breezes of spring (bad-e-bahari) and converted the desert of the heart into an orchard of great perfection (chamanistan).”
If a scientist is European or Hindu he will be restricted in his vision by reason. A Muslim scientist has unlimited scope; he will relate his science to miracles, mostly performed by himself. Sultan Bashiruddin, our top enrichment expert, believed he could draw electricity from a captured jinn. (For Pakistan’s needs just one jinn would suffice.) Pakistan’s current top nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarak Mand has revealed the same ‘miracle’ symptom.
According to journalist Abbas Athar in Daily Express, Dr Mand told an audience that once when he was in Kharan organising the nuclear test he found that Allah had put a miracle murgha (chicken) in the pot from where everyone was eating. After feeding 183 people the murgha was still crowding the pot. He had bought only five chickens. Athar Abbas thought Pakistan should have more degchi (pots) from Dr Mand to produce endless chicken.
What use is a rational scientist? Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, who wrote his first book on Islamist scientists thinking he was making fun of them, learned to his dismay that the country believed them, not him. Another rationalist scientist, Dr AH Nayyar, was recently given a verbal drubbing on TV by intellectuals rejecting his critique of the toxic textbooks being read by schoolchildren.
If we make Dr Khan our next president it will be like India making Dr Abdul Kalam its president; only our Dr Khan will have ghairat.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2010.