ISLAMABAD: Nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan passed away in Islamabad on Sunday morning at the age of 85. He was admitted to a local hospital where his health deteriorated early morning. PTV said that the nuclear scientist died after being transferred to a hospital with lung problems.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Dr Khan was loved by the nation because of his critical contribution in making Pakistan a nuclear weapon state.
"This has provided us security against an aggressive much larger nuclear neighbour. For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon," he said.
The premier added that he will be buried in Faisal Mosque "as per his wishes".
President Dr Arif Alvi said that he had personally known Dr Khan since 1982. "He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard," he said.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said that the nation had lost "a true benefactor who served the motherland with heart and soul."
"The passing of Dr Khan is a huge loss for the country. His role in making Pakistan an atomic power remains central," he said.
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said he was "deeply grieved" over his passing and called it a "great loss".
"Pakistan will forever honour his services to the nation! The nation is heavily indebted to him for his contributions in enhancing our defence capabilities," he said.
Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said that Dr Khan had played an important role in making the country "invincible". He also offered prayers for the deceased.
Born in 1936 in Bhopal, India, Dr Khan had immigrated along with his family to Pakistan in 1947 after partition of the subcontinent.
Last month, Khan had complained that neither Prime Minister Imran Khan nor any of his cabinet members inquired after his health while he was under treatment at a hospital.
Abdul Qadeer Khan was at the centre of a massive global nuclear proliferation scandal in 2004. In a series of dramatic developments, he was accused by then army chief and president Pervez Musharraf of running a rogue proliferation network for nuclear material.
Shortly after Musharraf’s announcement, a recorded confession by Khan was aired in which he took sole responsibility for all the nuclear proliferation that had been revealed.
According to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan, Dr Khan had been admitted to Khan Research Laboratories Hospital on August 26 after he tested positive for Covid-19. Later, he was shifted to a military hospital in Rawalpindi but was discharged after recovering from the virus.