Dr Abdul Quadeer Khan was born in Bhopal (British India) on April 1, 1936. After passing the Matric Examination from Hamidia High School, he left for Karachi, where he earned a BSc degree from the University of Karachi in 1960. Subsequently, he went to Germany and studied in Berlin before moving to Holland, where he earned an MSc (Technology) degree from Delft Technological University in 1967. Dr. Khan received his Doctor of Engineering Degree from the University of Leuven, Belgium in 1972.
After completing his formal education he worked as an expert in metallurgical and nuclear engineering. This included working in the Uranium Enrichment Plant in Holland, which provided him with state-of-the-art experience in nuclear technology. In 1976, he returned to Pakistan and set up the Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL) for enriching uranium. As a tribute to his services to the country, the President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Ziaul Haq, renamed the Laboratories as “Dr A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories” (KRL) in 1981. Over the years, the Laboratories became a focal point for a large number of scientists, engineers and technologists. Dr Khan guided them through the tasks that have led to unparalleled advances in uranium enrichment and missile technologies. This breakthrough eventually resulted in the historic explosion of six nuclear devices on 28th and 30th May, 1998 and the successful test firing of an intermediate range ballistic missile named “Ghauri” on 6th April, 1998 and 14th April, 1999. He was Chief Coordinator of Pakistan’s Ballistic Missile Programme from 1990 to 2000. Dr Khan remained Chairman of KRL until his retirement in 2001, after which, until 2004, he was Special Advisor (Federal Minister) to the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Dr Khan’s research areas are metallurgy, materials science and nuclear engineering. As an active scientist and technologist, he has published 200 research papers in reputable national and international journals and two patents are registered in his name in the UK. He has also edited a large number of books on metallurgy and nuclear engineering and given lectures at reputed universities and institutions, some of which have been published in book form.
Dr Khan has received 8 honorary degrees of Doctor of Science from the University of Karachi (25th July, 1993), Baqai Medical University, Karachi (11th December, 1998), Hamdard University, Karachi (6th March, 1999), Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, KPK (6th April, 1999), University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore (9th December, 2000), Sir Syed University, Karachi (25th March, 2001), Balochistan University, Quetta (21st October, 2003) and M.A. Jinnah University, Karachi (15th March, 2012). For his important and eminent contributions in the field of science and technology, the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan conferred upon him the award of Nishan-i-Imtiaz on 14th August, 1996 and 14th August, 1998. He is the only Pakistani to have ever received the highest civil award, Nishan-i-Imtiaz, twice over. He is also a recipient of the award of Hilal-i-Imtiaz. He is nationally acclaimed as “Mohsin-e-Pakistan” (Benefactor of Pakistan) and is revered by the whole nation.
Dr Khan has received 66 gold medals and 3 gold crowns from various national institutions and organizations. He is a Fellow of the Kazakh National Academy of Sciences, the first Asian scientist with this honour, a Fellow of the Korean Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS). Being a Fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, he was elected as President three times in succession. He is also a Member of a large number of national and international professional organizations, which include the Pakistan Institute of Metallurgical Engineers, the Pakistan Institute of Engineers, Fellow of the chemical society of Pakistan, the Institute of Central and West Asian Studies, the Institute of Materials, London, the American Society of Metal (ASM), the Metallurgical Society of the American Institute of Metallurgical, Mining and Petroleum Engineers (TMS), the Canadian Institute of Metals (CIM) and the Japan Institute of Metals (JIM). A number of colleges, institutes, auditoriums, roads, etc. have been named after him.
Dr Khan is an ardent supporter of higher education. As the Project Director of the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Science and Technology he invested his energies into developing it into an exemplary Institution. He has contributed immensely to the establishment of educational institutions in Pakistan. These include several colleges, schools, institutions and academies. So wide are his community services that his contributions extend to the construction of mosques, tombs, dispensaries and community health centres to alleviate the plight of the poor. A large number of educational institutions and auditoriums all over the country and abroad have been named after him.
Dr Khan has been writing weekly columns in the Pakistani dailies “Jang” (Urdu) and “News” (English) since 2008. He also wrote a column in the weekly “Nation”, for three years. These columns are very popular as they cover a wide range of subjects such as politics, education, social sciences, technologies, Islamic history, world history, religious affairs, etc. He is a much sought-after speaker/ chief guest at various universities, colleges, schools and social functions.