The passing away of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has left the entire nation in grief. At the same time, the painful event seems to have galvanised everyone, especially in the way people of all persuasions mourned his death in unison. His contribution to safeguarding the frontiers of this country is second only to the contribution of the Father of the Nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who carved this land in 1947. Dr Khan set up the first nuclear enrichment plant in Kahuta and earned the sobriquet Father of Nuclear Programme. He faced much criticism from the western countries that could never tolerate an Islamic country becoming an atomic power. While Dr Khan was revered as a hero not only by the Pakistani nation but also by the Islamic world, the western nations considered him a ‘villain’. Along with his chosen team of scientists, he however continued with his mission of making the country a nuclear power equipped with a nuclear bomb, which the west scathingly called the ‘Islamic Bomb’. Why not Christian, Jewish or Hindu bombs were called so, one may ask. Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998 in response to Indian nuclear explosions. Dr Khan’s dedication to his mission and hard work had made the nation proud. Pakistan entered the nuclear club. Dr Khan’s funeral drew a huge number of mourners to bid him the final farewell. People from all walks of life gathered to attend his last rites because of the respect he had earned by selflessly working to turn the country into a nuclear power state. Thus, fortifying its geographical frontiers. Those who attended his funeral wanted to express their gratitude for him for giving them a sense of security in the form of a nuclear arsenal. Among Dr Khan’s laudable achievements is the setting up of one of the most prestigious institutions, Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, in Topi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The institution sprawled over a scenic area of about 400 acres overlooking Tarbela is Dr Khan’s brainchild. Being a metallurgist, he devoted special attention to the institute’s faculty of Materials and Metallurgy Sciences. Established in 1993, the institute’s faculty buildings easily match the buildings of any world-class university, including spacious and comfortable hostels for students of both genders. While the Indians elevated the pioneer of their nuclear programme to the highest status of president of the country, we confined our decorated hero to his home. According to Times Higher Education’s recent report, GIK institute ranks No.1 in the country. And worldwide the institute was placed at 30th position out of 966 universities. Our universities in the public sector generally ignore the importance of research work. But GIK institute lays great emphasis on research and encourages its faculty members to publish research papers in foreign scientific journals. While commending Dr Khan for his achievements, the role played by former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan deserves to be highlighted. Ishaq Khan jealously guarded the nuclear programme and pursued setting up the GIK Institute in Topi. Dr A Q Khan, besides being an accomplished nuclear scientist and a great achiever, was a philanthropist at heart. He established Dr A Q Khan Trust Hospital in Lahore to provide free medical assistance to the poor who couldn’t afford to pay the high cost of medical treatment and heavy fees of the doctors. And to satisfy his literary taste, he regularly wrote columns for the newspapers. Nevertheless, Dr Khan didn’t have smooth sailing throughout his distinguished career. He had his share of rough patches in life. His low moments arrived when the then CIA chief George Tenet asked Gen Musharraf “… to take on a man (referring to Dr Khan) who almost singlehandedly transformed Pakistan into a nuclear power and who was considered a hero by the Nation.” Dr Khan was compelled to face the General on the TV and confess to what he had done or not done. The mystery remains. Following his confession on the TV, Dr AQK, as the people lovingly knew him, was confined within the precincts of his home for five years (2004-2009) in isolation. Even his pictures adorning various offices in the country were taken off. What a cruel turn of fate! While the Indians elevated the pioneer of their nuclear programme to the highest status of president of the country, we confined our decorated hero to his home. History will however record the event differently. More the people eulogised the father of the nuclear programme as their hero, the deeper his tormentors would descend into infamy. The writer is a Lahore-based columnist and can be reached at pinecity @gmail.com.