RANDOM THOUGHTS : Unsung Heroes (Part XXII)- By: Dr. A.Q. Khan

Unsung Heroes
Dr. A.Q. Khan

A description of the unimaginable achievements of my colleagues is not yet finished. How could it be? You cannot describe the impossible becoming possible in just a few words. The miracle was worked in 7 years but, true to Islamic traditions, those who performed this technological miracle suffered mental and physical torture for it at the hands of an ungrateful, thankless lot. This immediately brings to mind the verse:
Ba’tan ko dekhiye to sarapa faribo mukr,
Zahir ko dekhiye, to farishte ka khaul he
(From appearance they seem saints but inside they are hypocrites and traitors)

Let me tell you more about some of my dedicated and competent colleagues at Kahuta whose contributions are no less than that of those already written about.

As mentioned before, Mr. Bhutto requested me to remain in Pakistan and help achieve nuclear capability, while we had actually only come on holiday. It was a tough decision, but after thorough discussions my wife and I decided to stay. We were on holiday and brought only the necessary clothes so we decided that I would stay on while my wife went back to make all the necessary arrangements and say farewell to her parents – a difficult time. Since I had the necessary experience required for getting the job done, I went all out on a war footing to achieve our goal. On Mr. Bhutto’s instructions I went to see Gen. Tikka Khan, COAS. His PSO, Brig. Faqir (popularly known as Faqira), was a handsome Pathan – fair skinned and green eyed. I told Gen. Tikka that I needed a Liaison Officer c** guide to accompany us to find a site for our Plant. Brig. Faqir promised to send someone the next morning. Come morning, there came a young, smart officer by the name of Maj. Islamul Haq. He had been a prisoner-of-war as a young man and was bitter about his experiences. He took us around to see many places. I very much liked the sites near Khanpur (where we later built a missile factory) and Kahuta (which was pointed out to us by Mr. Shakir, former Director of Small Dams Project and then Director, Works, PAEC. We liked Kahuta from all aspects of consideration and Gen. Zahid Ali Akbar Khan (a Brigadier at the time) acquired the land for us through the Secretary Defence, Gen. Fazle Muqeem Khan, a fine, tall, handsome and efficient officer.

I have already mentioned earlier that the Army Chief, on instructions from Mr. Bhutto, had told Gen. Islamullah Khan, DG EME (a Brigadier at the time) to help us. He obtained for us some old, pre-World War II garages near the airport – a God-forsaken place with snakes and scorpions. These garages had high, tin-sheet, dilapidated and broken roofs with deep service pits in the floor for repairing trucks. The pits we had filled up with broken bricks bought from a local brick kiln and the roof was repaired with jute sheets soaked in molten tar. We cut a 7 x 3 foot door in the large garage doors and put in a false ceiling. Within a few weeks we had a place to work in. It was very primitive, but at least we could plan and work there. Gen. Islamullah had deputed Col. Arif to help us. He was a fine, smart and competent officer who did a good job. Gen. Islamullah also gave us 3 EME Colonels, viz. Col. Qazi Rashid Ali, Col. Abdul Majid and Col. Bashir Khan. The first two did a very good job as mechanical and electrical engineers respectively, while the latter did not make much contribution as he retired early.

Once the office and some workshops were ready, I needed administrative staff. Gen. Islamullah sent us Col. Ayub Khan, who turned out to be an excellent administrator but a hard task master. Later on I employed Capt. M. Alam and Capt. M. Siddiq, the former as my PA and the latter as Protocol Officer. Capt. Alam had fought in Africa, Cyprus and Germany with the British Indian Army. Capt. Siddiq belonged to the Education Corps. They got along very well and were an asset to us. Capt. Alam expired after retirement. Capt. Siddiq is still active and very helpful to my family when they travel abroad and when they come back, thus still continuing protocol duties.

When the work became too much for Capt. Alam, I needed another, younger officer. I thought of Maj. Islam and asked Dr. Farooq if he could locate him, which he managed to do. He found him running a nice school in Sattelite Town. Farooq brought him to me, we talked about our earlier, pleasant association and I offered him the job of becoming my Principal Staff Officer, which he gladly accepted. He was smart, sharp and intelligent with a good command of English. I could not have found a better or more reliable officer. He had great initiative and never left anything pending. All these positive qualities became his undoing when Musharraf became poodle to Bush and caused us all great agony and pain (for serving our country and allowing the army to once again walk tall). One of Maj. Islam’s old class fellows and so-called friend, became Musharraf’s stooge and caused Maj. Islam a lot of trouble and mental torture. He knew very well that Maj. Islam was innocent of the charges brought against him but being loyal to me became his biggest crime. Such hypocrites may earn worldly benefits, but they should never forget Allah’s severe punishment.

Capt Alam was a pleasant, straight-forward, honest person. When Maj. Islam took over, he got some relief from all his responsibilities and both he and Capt. Siddiq both did protocol duties. They worked well together.

In the ‘Pindi office I had Majid and Niaz as Qasibs. Both were excellent, hard working, honest boys. We had Sher Zaman and Baba Lashkar as our cooks who prepared simple but delicious dishes for us every day. At Kahuta I had a fine, competent PA, Mohammad Ashraf with Shabbir as Qasib. Both were efficient and loyal. When I retired, both of them tendered their resignations and left. Cook Munsif and waiters Jamil, Tamaj and Abbas took excellent care of us. May Almighty Allah shower His blessings on all these fine patriotic people who all server this national project so diligently in their own abilities and ways – Ameen.

To be continued.

Posted on Dec 01, 14 | 8:04 am