'Pak. atomic bomb was ready in 1984'

ISLAMABAD MARCH 30. Abdul Qader Khan, known as the `father of Pakistan's nuclear programme', has claimed that his country had made the atomic bomb as early as 1984 but continued to deny its existence till May 1998. Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in May 1998, days after the Pokhran tests by India.

Dr. Khan has been quoted in the local press as having said at a function in Karachi on Friday that he was often accused of making `incendiary' remarks regarding Pakistan's nuclear capability. He told the audience that he was only acting under instructions from the Government. Dr. Khan, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Strategic Programmes, said Pakistan could ``take out'' Delhi and Mumbai in five minutes.

``The late General Zia or the deposed Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, could not say that Pakistan could target Indian cities. So they asked me to do that. ''

When asked why Pakistan could not give a few bombs to Iraq, Dr. Khan said it was up to the Government to take such decisions. He said he had gone to Germany for higher studies instead of Britain because "even forty years ago I hated England very much and today I hate Britain even more."

"I was in Berlin when East Pakistan broke away from West Pakistan. I saw pictures of our troops being incarcerated and humiliated by the Indians. Incensed, I wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, urging him to do something. My wonderment knew no bounds when I actually received a reply asking me to come and see him. In 1976, we agreed to initiate a programme aimed at making the atomic bomb. ''

"I even urged Gen. Zia in 1984 to make it public that Pakistan had made the atomic bomb. But the Foreign Office dissuaded him on the plea that American aid to Pakistan would stop if the world learnt that the country had the atomic bomb in its nuclear arsenal.''

Dr. Khan said that in May 1998 he had written to Nawaz Sharif telling him that if he did not detonate Pakistan's nuclear device, he would go down in history as a cowardly Prime Minister. "It came out later that the former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, had promised to deposit $100 million in the personal bank accounts of Mr. Sharif and his brother's in return for refraining from detonating Pakistan's nuclear device. India was at its wits' end when Pakistan tested its missiles as well.''

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