Islamabad (Pakistan) | Jagran News Desk: Nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is considered as the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, passed away at the age of 85 on Sunday morning in the capital city of Islamabad, reported Dawn News.

Local media reports suggest that Dr Khan was hospitalised on Saturday night after his health started deteriorating. However, he passed away at around 7.04 on Sunday morning after his lungs collapsed, local media reports claimed.

Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi, who knew Dr Khan since 1982, has expressed grief over his demise and said, "He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard".

Pakistan Defence Minister Parvez Khattak also paid tribute to Dr Khan and said that people across the country "will forever honour his services to the nation". "Deeply grieved at the sad demise of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. Great loss," he tweeted in Urdu. "The nation is heavily indebted to him for his contributions in enhancing our defence capabilities".

Shehbaz Sharif, who is the current Leader of the Opposition in the Pakistan Assembly, said that the country has lost "a true benefactor" as he condoled the demise of Dr Khan. "The passing of Dr Khan is a huge loss for the country. His role in making Pakistan an atomic power remains central," he tweeted.

Dr Khan is considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme. In 2016, he had warned that Pakistan can "target" New Delhi in five minutes. He had also claimed that Pakistan could have become a nuclear power as early as 1984 but the then President General Zia ul Haq "opposed the move".

"We were able and we had a plan to launch nuclear test in 1984. But President General Zia ul Haq had opposed the move," he had said.

In 2004, Dr Khan was disgraced and forced to accept responsibility for nuclear technology proliferation and was forced to live a life of official house arrest. In 2009, the Islamabad High Court declared Khan to be a free citizen of Pakistan, allowing him free movement inside the country.

He regretted the treatment and said Pakistan would never have achieved the feat of becoming first Muslim nuclear country without his "services". "Without my services Pakistan would never have been the first Muslim nuclear nation. We were able to achieve the capability under very tough circumstances, but we did it," said Dr Khan.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma