Pakistan mourns controversial nuclear program founder Khan
DW, 11 Oct 2021
The man considered the founding father of Pakistan‘s nuclear program has died. The interior ministry announced the death of Abdul Qadeer Khan, after he was in hospital with COVID-19. The scientist had long courted international controversy, accused of selling nuclear secrets to Libya, North Korea and Iran. But in Pakistan he's considered a national icon for transforming the nation into a nuclear power.
Not even the pouring rain could keep thousands from attending Khan's state funeral in Islamabad. The man was a symbol of pride for Pakistan, particularly in its relations with regional rival India - a longstanding nuclear power.
Khan might have been a hero in his country but outside he was notorious. His team helped Pakistan carry out a nuclear test in 1998, which resulted in international sanctions on the country. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog named Khan as a key figure in a global atomic black market. In 2004, he confessed to illegally sharing nuclear secrets with Iran, Libya, and North Korea.
Pakistan's then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf placed Khan under house arrest in 2004 - a lenient punishment which angered the West.
Khan lived mostly out of the public eye, following his release five years later. His death has brought him back into view - polarizing opinion at home and abroad.
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