Dear Brother Mohammad Sarwar, Assalamo Alaikum,
I hope you are well. May Allah bless you, your family and all British citizens of Pakistani origin with good health, long life, prosperity and tranquility and protect you from all evil – Ameen.
1) Today I would like to inform the readers of some of the problems my family and I faced when I agreed to Mr. Bhutto’s request to remain in Pakistan and serve the country. It was a difficult decision, but my wife and I agreed that it was in the greater interests of Pakistan. I had an excellent career in Holland with a bright future and the possibility of becoming a university Professor. From day one Munir Ahmed Khan (the pseudo doctor) tried his best to put hurdles in my way and to force us to leave. He must have been hoping to get all the information from me and then send me packing. Mr. Bhutto, in good faith, had appointed me as Advisor in the PAEC. We were given a nominal housing allowance with which we rented an average house (no tiled bathrooms, no street lights) in the developing F-8 sector which, at the time, was at the very outer edge of Islamabad. We were not provided with any transport or furniture and on a monthly salary of Rs. 3,000 for which I had to wait 6 months before receiving the first payment. Thanks to the savings we had brought with us, we managed to pull through those first months.
Munir gave everyone the impression that he had a doctorate in nuclear technology while in fact he only had a B.Sc.Eng. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore and a 9-month Diploma in Electric Power Engineering from North Carolina State Polytechnic. When the IAEA was set up, Pakistan was also given a few junior posts. He was appointed to one of these posts through the kindness of Prof.Dr. Raziuddin Siddiqui who, at that time, was heading a delegation to the UN. We all know that the IAEA is no more than a record-keeping agency keeping track of nuclear plants and nuclear activities in various countries. It was not a technical post. After the disgraceful defeat of our armed forces in the then East Pakistan in 1971, Mr. Bhutto became the President and soon thereafter, the Prime Minister. He was obsessed with turning Pakistan into a nuclear power to protect the country from further Indian aggression. Munir’s brother, Shaikh Khursheed Ahmed, who was Bhutto’s colleague in Ayub Khan’s government, projected Munir as an expert. Consequently he was appointed Chairman of PAEC in 1972.
After I decided to stay, Munir appointed Bashiruddin Mahmood, also a graduate from UET, Lahore with an M.S. from Manchester Institute of Technology in Servo Control of Electrical Motors, to be in charge of the work, while I was supposed to advise him. There were persistent rumours at the time that Munir, being a Qadiani, had bypassed many Ph.Ds in his appointment of Bashir, as the latter was also a Qadiani. For me, used to European efficiency and professionalism, it was sheer torture having to work under the prevalent circumstances. Nothing functioned smoothly and one faced bureaucratic hurdles everywhere. Within a few weeks I had become extremely frustrated and thought I had made the biggest blunder of my life in deciding to return to Pakistan. I brought this to Munir’s notice on a number of occasions, but to no avail. He was king of the castle, lived in a large, fully furnished bungalow with many servants, had a Mercedes at his disposal and was receiving a high contract salary, monthly saving certificates and frequent foreign travel. The school fees (at the International School) were also being paid by the government. Since he was a minion, he cultivated close relations with Prof. Salam (perhaps due to clan affinity), thus creating the impression that he was an intellectual and a top-class scientist.
After I could take no more because I was not achieving anything in my work and I was not receiving any response from Munir, I wrote him one final, nasty letter about the state of affairs and also about Bashir’s incompetence. I reproduce this letter below.
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission,
Dear Mr. Chairman,
It has been about 2 weeks since I asked Bashir to convey to you my request to spare me a few moments. Whether he forgot to do so or whether you could not accommodate it in your busy schedule is not clear. I am, therefore, compelled to convey to you this message in writing.
I have now been here for more than 4 months and have been able to get a pretty good idea of the position of the Project. I have tried to contribute as much as I could under the circumstances but, frankly speaking, I am not at all satisfied with it and could do at least 10 times more to what I have been able to now.
Lately, a number of ‘very experienced’ and ‘able’ engineers have joined, or are about to join, the project and they should be able to see the project through under their ‘able’ and ‘intelligent’ Director and your guidance. I think my presence here will now, in no way, be of much help to the project. Of late I cannot help but have the feeling that I am no more than just a ‘pukh’ . Before things get out of hand and lead to an unpleasant break-up, I would like to stop my association with the project. It was a well-thought-out decision to come over here and help the country and both my wife and I had also considered all eventualities. I think it is advisable for us now to take the necessary steps to proceed abroad at our earliest convenience. Since there has been nothing in writing so far, we can leave things as they stand. Should you so desire, I am willing to contribute to the project as long as we remain here.
One thing which I would like to mention is that the target given to the Prime Minister can never be met. Activities undertaken so far have put the project back by at least 2 years and if things go as they are going now, I don’t think the project will be completed (if completed at all) by 1980. Each week passing is putting it behind by at least 3 to 4 months.
I am thankful to the Prime Minister and to you for the confidence in me and for undertaking the project so vital for this country.
Thank you very much
Dr. A.Q. Khan
As was to be expected, I did not get any response from Munir and then decided to approach Mr. Bhutto directly. To this end I wrote the following letter:
Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,
Prime Minister of Pakistan,
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I have now been here for almost 7 months and have done my best to be useful for the project. However, I am constrained to write that I am a totally disappointed and dejected person and have come to the conclusion that, either things should change, or I should leave. I have written a letter to Mr. Munir Ahmed, Chairman PAEC about the state of affairs. Bashiruddin Mahmood, Incharge of the project, is a stupid fellow. He lacks vision, comprehension and even the required qualification to lead such a Project. His boss, Munir Ahmed Khan, is the biggest fraud I have ever met. He projects himself as a nuclear expert and doctor. As a matter of fact he just holds a B.Sc. from a 3rd rate Lahore University and a 9-month diploma from the 3rd rate North Carolina State Polytechnic in Power (Electrical Engineering). His job at the IAEA was somewhat similar to an account clerk keeping a record of nuclear plants, etc. all over the world. He has no practical experience.
Munir Ahmed Khan has been pressing me to lie to you, claiming that he would be able to explode a plutonium device by the end of 1976. When there is no fuel fabrication plant, no unsafeguarded reactor, no fuel cutting/shredding facility and no reprocessing plant, how can he claim that? He is liar and is taking you for a ride. Moreover, the target of 1980 given to you for the enrichment plant is totally wrong. The way he is handling the project, we will never be able to have an enrichment plant.
Mr. Prime Minister, I came to Pakistan to serve my country and turn it into a nuclear power, leaving behind a respected, lucrative position. I have been handed over to a most incompetent, ignorant person to play his ‘pukh’. I won’t do it! I am extremely grateful to you, but I am no use to you anymore. Incidentally, I am the only person in Pakistan who can set up this facility. As a matter of fact, I am one of only about a dozen or so people in the world who can do this job.
I would earnestly request you to please let me go back abroad. I am really sorry.
With best regards,
Dr. A.Q. Khan
Encl. Copy of the letter to Munir Ahmed Khan
While I sent this letter to Mr. Bhutto through Gen. Imtiaz Ali (then a Brig. And MS to the PM), Gen. Zahid Ali Akbar (then a Brig. and in charge of the civil works at Kahuta) went to inform Gen. Zia about the bad state of affairs. He also informed Gen. Imtiaz. These combined efforts hit like a thunderbolt. Mr. Bhutto was furious at Munir and abused him in the presence of Mr. Agha Shahi, Gen. Imtiaz and myself. He instructed Gen. Imtiaz and Mr. Agha Shahi to immediately find another Chairman. His actual words were: “This b****** is a cheat; he deceived me. Throw him out. Find a new, capable Chairman.” Mr. Bhutto asked me to give him 2 or 3 days to sort out the matter. He was a very efficient administrator and a great patriot. More about the drop of the curtain another time.
2) Now we have a new Prime Minister – Raja Pervez Ashraf – a Zardari loyalist. More about him later.
Dr. A.Q. Khan