Munir Ahmad Khan
|Munir Ahmad Khan|
Munir Ahmad Khan (1920–1999), NI, HI.
|Born||20 May 1926|
|Died||22 April 1999
|Institutions||Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission
International Atomic Energy Agency
Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology
Government College University
National Centre for Theoretical Physics
|Alma mater||Government College University
North Carolina State University
Illinois Institute of Technology
Argonne National Laboratory
|Academic advisors||Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry
Prof. George B. Hoadley
|Known for||Pakistan's atomic deterrent program
Pakistan's nuclear energy program
Work on reactor physics
|Notable awards||Hilal-e-Imtiaz (1989)
Munir Ahmad Khan (Urdu: منير احمد خان; b. 20 May 1926 – 22 April 1999; NI HI), was a Pakistani nuclear engineer, scientist, who served as the chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from 1972 to 1991. He is credited along with Zulfikar Bhutto (former Prime minister), on the technical side as the "father of the Pakistan's atomic bomb project", for his role in Pakistan's integrated atomic bomb project; the clandestine Cold war program developed the atomic weapons that ultimately resulted in first successful atomic bomb testing on May 1998 (see Chagai-I and Chagai-II) in Chagai Weapon-testing Laboratories; these tests are considered one of few milestones in Pakistan's history in which, the nuclear devices were developed and produced under a programme of which Khan served its technical director.
Since 1958, Khan served as the technical adviser to the newly created PAEC, and used his position in the International Atomic Energy Agency for lobbying for country's industrial nuclear power development. He was a proponent of a arm race with India whilst remaining associated with his country's various strategic science projects for more than four decades until his death in 1999. After securing the chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1986–87, he made a strong case for Pakistan's peaceful development on nuclear energy. His notable achievements as Chairman of PAEC include the establishment of the first international physics conference in Pakistan; promoting research in physics, mathematical sciences, and science and technology in the country; the development of the nuclear fuel cycle including the setting up of the plutonium program as well as the establishment of New Laboratories reprocessing plant. In 1986, he entered into a comprehensive civil nuclear energy agreement with China, which led the established the C-1 reactor at the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex.
- 1 Youth and early life
- 2 Early professional work
- 3 Zulifikar Ali Bhutto's trusted aide
- 4 Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)
- 5 Legacy
- 6 Quotes by Khan
- 7 State Honors
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Youth and early life
Munir Ahmad Khan was born in Kakazai family of Kasur, Punjab British Province of British Indian Empire on 20 May 1926. After completing his early education in a local high school in Lahore, he passed the university entrance exams, and enrolled in the Department of Science of the Government College University in 1942. In 1946, he received his double B.Sc. degree in Physics and Mathematics from Government College University as a contemporary of the Nobel Laureate Professor Abdus Salam. During his Bachelor's education, he also won an Academic Roll of Honor, and subsequently in 1949, he earned a B.Sc. in Electrical engineering from Punjab University. From 1949–51, Khan served as an assistant professor of undergraduate mathematics at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET). In 1951, Khan travelled to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship and Rotary International Fellowship where he earned an M.S. in Electrical engineering in 1952 from North Carolina State University.
Studies in United States
In 1953, Khan began post-graduate research work at the Illinois Institute of Technology which continued until 1956 during which time he also received preliminary training in atomic energy. In 1956, he was selected for the Atoms for Peace Program and participated in the Nuclear Engineering training program of the International School of Nuclear Science and Engineering (ISNSE), at the North Carolina State University and the Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois where he earned a M.Sc. in Nuclear engineering.
In 1957, he was part of the third batch of ISNSE's graduates who had specialized in reactor physics and nuclear engineering. The Argonne National Laboratory were operated by the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the University of Chicago where, on 2 December 1942 a team of scientists achieved the first self-sustaining chain reaction in a nuclear reactor, which is considered to be a crucial step in the development of the first Atomic bomb.
Early professional work
While at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Khan was elected to the Sigma-Xi, the scientific research society of America, in recognition of his research work. During his post graduate studies at IIT, he also worked briefly with Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee, WI, and later with Commonwealth Edison Chicago, as a Systems Planning Engineer. Allis-Chalmers was a sub-contractor and manufacturer of pumps and equipment for the K-25 gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant, at Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the Manhattan Project in World War II. When he was working with the Commonwealth Edison as a Systems Engineer, the company was building the world's first commercial nuclear power reactor. Hence, he received his practical training in atomic energy from 1954–1956 at Commonwealth Edison Manufacturing Company.
In 1957, Khan served as a Resident Research Associate in the Nuclear Engineering Division of the Argonne National Laboratory where he worked as a reactor design engineer on "Modifications of CP-5 Reactor." He then served in the Reactor Division of the American Machine Foundry Company, AMF Atomics, where he worked on the "Thermodynamic Design of Japan Research Reactor-2" till 1958.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
While in the United States, Khan was offered to joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1958, becoming a staff member in Professional Grade P-5. He served in the IAEA's Division of Nuclear Power and Reactors under the Department of Technical Operations. He was the first Asian from any developing country who was appointed at a senior technical position in the IAEA in 1958. By 1961, he was a senior officer responsible for Nuclear Power Reactor Technology and Applications, Reactor Division, IAEA, and from 1968 headed the IAEA's Reactor Engineering and Nuclear Fuel Cycle activities till 1972. He was known in the IAEA as "The Reactor Khan".
His major responsibilities as head of IAEA's Reactor Engineering and Nuclear Fuel Cycle activities included developing and implementing programs in the field of research in reactor utilization in nuclear centers, technical and economic assessment of nuclear power reactors, world survey of nuclear power plants for developing countries, construction and operating experience with nuclear stations, fast breeder reactors and nuclear desalination.
As a senior IAEA staff member, Khan also organized more than 20 international technical and scientific conferences and seminars on heavy water reactors, advanced Gas Cooled Reactors, plutonium utilisation, performance of nuclear power plants, problems and prospects of introducing nuclear power in developing countries, Small and Medium Power Reactors and coordination of programs for research in Theoretical Estimation of Uranium Depletion and Plutonium build-up in Power Reactors in the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, France and Canada. In 1961, he prepared a technical feasibility report on behalf of the IAEA on Small Power Reactor projects of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. While at the IAEA, Munir Khan also served as Scientific Secretary to the Third and Fourth UN International Geneva Conferences on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1964 and 1971 respectively. He also served as Chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors from 1986–87 and was the leader of Pakistan's delegations to 19 IAEA General Conferences from 1972–90. He also served as a Member of the IAEA Board of Governors for 12 years.
International Centre for Theoretical Physics
Since the 1940s, Munir Khan and the Nobel Laureate in Physics, Professor Abdus Salam were associates who studied Physics and Mathematics together at Government College, Lahore. Khan recognised the importance of Theoretical physics, and had studied its "real world" applications that related to the field of nuclear engineering, whilst trying to solve the reactor physics problems. During 1967, he and Salam prepared a proposal for setting up a nuclear fuel and plutonium reprocessing plant in Pakistan, which was deferred by President Field Marshal Ayub Khan on economic grounds.
In fact, Khan was the first person at the IAEA who was consulted by Abdus Salam in September 1960 about the establishment of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste. Khan played a very important role in the establishment of the ICTP by way of securing the support of the IAEA the cause. According to Khan, Nobel laureate Isidor Rabi and Homi Bhabha, members of the scientific advisory committee of IAEA, unanimously opposed the establishment of ICTP. Privately, Bhabha wanted to establish the ICTP in Mumbai, but Salam refused. Therefore, Khan teamed up with Salam and established the ICTP in Italy, despite many initiatives taken against it. Following the same tradition, in 1976, Abdus Salam and Munir Khan established the Annual international Nathiagali Summer College on Theoretical Physics and Contemporary Needs in Pakistan where the first conference was held on Theoretical physics and Quantum Mechanics in 1976. Munir Khan took special interest in holding the first INSC in 1976 and since then it has evolved into an annual event and an institution for interaction between Nobel Laureates and scientists from the developing world. He invited hundreds of scientists from all over the world to come to Pakistan and interact with Pakistani scientists.
In December 1972, Abdus Salam directed two Pakistani theoretical physicists, Riazuddin and Masud Ahmad, who were working under him at the ICTP, to report to Munir Khan on their return to Pakistan where they formed the "Theoretical Physics Group" (TPG) in PAEC. This group would go on to develop the theoretical design of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
On August 1996, Khan met Abdus Salam in Oxford. Khan wrote:
My last meeting with Abdus Salam was only three months ago. His disease had taken its toll and he was unable to talk. Yet he understood what was said. I told him about the celebration held in Pakistan on his seventieth birthday. He kept staring at me. He had risen above praise. As I rose to leave he pressed my hand to express his feelings as if he wanted to thank everyone who had said kind words about him. Dr. Abdus Salam had deep love for Pakistan in spite of the fact that he was treated unfairly and indifferently by his own country. It became more and more difficult for him to come to Pakistan and this hurt him deeply. Now he has returned home finally, to rest in peace for ever in the soil that he loved so much. May be in the years to come we will rise above our prejudice and own him and give him, after his death, what we could not when he was alive...—Munir Ahmad Khan paying tribute to Abdus Salam, 
Munir Khan's efforts at lobbying for the up-gradation and strengthening of the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), which he had established in 1976 as Pakistan's premier institute for physics and engineering, resulted in PIEAS being awarded university status in 1997 as a full-fledged science research institute status by the government in 2000, culminating as the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS). Munir Khan remained associated with the PIEAS as the associate professor of physics, a passion that remained entire his life, and was instrumental in scientific competition in the PIEAS between students and professors.
Zulifikar Ali Bhutto's trusted aide
Munir Ahmad Khan became increasingly concerned about politics and international affairs after Pakistan's 1965 war with India. Although, he did not personally know Bhutto at the time though he had seen Bhutto's role in PAEC in 1958 as Energy Minister.
Khan had his first meeting with Bhutto in October 1965 in Vienna and asked him to inform the Government of Pakistan about the quick advancement and advanced status of the Indian nuclear programme; many options were drawn out by Munir Khan to Bhutto for Pakistan to acquire its own nuclear deterrence capability. As Bhutto sensed the importance of the issue, he arranged Munir's private meeting with President Ayub Khan on 11 December 1965, at the Dorchester Hotel in London. Without wasting time, Munir Khan asked President Ayub Khan to pursue the nuclear deterrent against the India's armed nuclear threat. While President Ayub Khan patiently listened to Munir Khan's offer, which according to Munir Khan, was available free of safeguards and at an affordable cost from international supplier states, the President swiftly dismissed the offer since he believed that Pakistan "was too poor to spend" so much money and ended the meeting that if needed, Pakistan would "somehow buy it off the shelf".
Although the meeting was not successful as expected, Bhutto and Munir Khan vowed to deter the Indian nuclear threat with Bhutto quoting: "Don't worry. Our turn will come". This was the beginning of their association, and Munir Khan increasingly became involved with politics and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Finally, the goal of making Pakistan a nuclear power saw its first milestone when country's first commercial nuclear power plant was inaugurated in Karachi 28 November 1972. There, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Munir Khan recalled their past association and similarity of views about developing nuclear capability for Pakistan. While addressing the Munir Ahmad Khan, Bhutto said:
|“||"Since 1965, I have been in close touch with you (Chairman PAEC) and we have had many occasions to discuss how atomic energy can help in the development of our country. That is why soon after assuming this office, I not only placed the Atomic Energy Commission under my direct control, but asked you to return to the country and serve the nation. I am glad that the Atomic Energy Commission is on the move with a well-defined and broad-based programme for the future. I believe that Pakistan's survival lies in using nuclear research, nuclear technology, and nuclear power for the betterment of its people. The Government will give the fullest support to the Programme of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and this country will make the necessary resources available to bring the promise of atomic energy to the people of Pakistan at the earliest possible time".||”|
In his inaugural address, the Munir Ahmad Khan addressed the Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and stated:
|“||"I remember the day in October, 1965 when I had the opportunity of discussing with you the tremendous potential which atomic energy had and the role it could play in the development of our country. You not only listened but insisted that I present my view to higher-ups. I went. But my pleadings made no impact and I was dubbed as another mad man who thought like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. But the times have changed and so has the destiny of our country".||”|
Throughout the development of the atomic bomb in the 1970s and 80s, Munir Khan continued his left-wing associations with the Peoples Party even after Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown in a coup led by Zia-ul-Haq who shifted in Bhutto in the Adiala Jail. Bhutto continued to send messages to Munir Ahmad Khan inquiring about the progress of various projects of the atomic bomb project when the Chairman of PAEC would visit the former Prime Minister of Pakistan in jail on the pretext of delivering oranges and vitamins to update him on the status of the nuclear weapons program. Benazir and Murtaza Bhutto were instructed by her father to have keep the contacts with Munir Ahmad Khan.[nb 1]
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)
Shortly after the disintegration of East-Pakistan on 16 December 1971, President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto approved and gave authorisation of crash programme to develop an atomic bomb. On 20 January 1972, a secret meeting of scientists and engineers at Multan was arranged and held by Abdus Salam to meet with the President. Without wasting any moment, Bhutto invited Khan to take over the crash programme, a task that Khan threw himself into with full vigor. During this secret meeting, Bhutto exhorted the assembled scientists and engineers to develop the atomic bomb under Khan, despite he had been unknown to many senior scientists. Even though Khan was not a doctorate holder, he had gained extensive experience, first as a reactor engineer in the United States, and later as head of the IAEA's reactor physics division, which enabled him to direct senior scientists to working under him. Both Bhutto and the military were impressed with Khan's breadth of scientific knowledge and his unparalleled exposure in engineering, ordnance, metallurgy, chemistry and interdisciplinary projects that would differs the physics.
Within two months, he submitted a detailed [nuclear] plan to President Bhutto which envisaged the establishment of numerous manufacturing plants and facilities needed to master the complete nuclear fuel cycle. In November 1972, President Bhutto, accompanied with Khan and Salam, inaugurated country's first 137MWe commercial nuclear power plant, KANUPP-I— a commercial nuclear power plant. In December 1972, Munir Khan called a meeting with Salam to initiate conceptual and design work for building atomic bombs. On 20 December, Abdus Salam established the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) in PAEC when two theoretical physicists working at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), were asked by Abdus Salam to report to the Chairman of PAEC. After reporting to Khan, the TPG was fully functioned under his direction, and began the work on fast neutron calculations as well developing appropriate theoretical designs develop the designs of atomic bomb. Abdus Salam took over the work on fast-neutron calculations as the director of TPG which worked directly under the PAEC.
One of the important act was to called for a meeting for physical development of bomb at his PINSTECH building. Khan invited mechanical engineer Hafeez Qureshi of Radiation and Isotope Applications Division (RIAD), chemical engineer Zaman Shaikh of DESTO, and the Theoretical Physics Group's members including Riazuddin and Abdus Salam. There, it was decided to established Directorate for Technical Development (DTD), and busied themselves calculating mathematical calculations, and physical development to make the bomb. During the meeting the word "bomb" was never used, but the participants fully understood what was being discussed. The next day, Salam, Riazuddin and Khan chaired a last meeting with Lieutenant-General Qamar Ali Mirza and the Engineer-in-Chief of the Corps of Engineers to handle its part in atom bomb project, with first starting the construction of the Metallurgical Laboratories (MLab). Meanwhile, the DTD busied itself to developed the chemical explosive lenses, a sub-critical sphere of fissile material could be squeezed into a smaller and denser form.
Abdus Salam headed TPG until 1974 who previously reported to Zulfikar Bhutto; after Salam's departure, the TPG was instituted under Riazuddin directly reporting to Khan, and continued to develop new indigenous nuclear weapons designs which were tested in various cold tests by PAEC. In the months and initial years following Khan's taking over the atom bomb project, the PAEC entered into agreements with France, Belgium, Canada, and West-Germany for the supply of a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, a heavy water plant and a nuclear fuel fabrication plant, which were to be under IAEA safeguards. But following India's 1974 nuclear test (Smiling Buddha), these agreements were abrogated by the supplier states due to Pakistan's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
1971 war and atomic bomb project
In 1972, the development efforts were directed to a plutonium-implosion type weapon, called Kirana-I. On 18 May 1974, Munir Ahmad Khan was in Peshawar for laying the foundations of an agriculture center at Nuclear Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), when India surprisingly conducted a test of its device under a codename "Smiling Buddha"; therefore, Khan cancelled the meeting despite civil engineer Farhatullah Babar's recommendation and flew to Islamabad to hold talks with Zulfikar Bhutto. Farhatullah Babar has described Khan's response after Indian explosion:
The day (May 18, 1974) India immaturely exploded her device, Munir Khan was in Peshawar where he had laid the foundation of an agricultural center and had planned a press conference in the evening... When Munir Khan heard the news, he cancelled the press conference. I insisted to continue the conference as it was planned, Munir Khan refused and said: "You should not expect me to talk about potatoes and onions when the Indians are exploding a nuclear device close to our border....".
As he returned to Islamabad, Khan wrote a lengthy and detailed paper titled "India's nuclear explosion: Challenge and Response", and published his paper in IAEA soon after. Sensing the political importance of the test, Khan launched the initiated secret work on uranium enrichment under Bashiruddin Mahmood, as a part of the project that Munir Khan codenamed "Project-706". In 1976, Abdul Qadeer Khan was invited by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to join "706", later separating toe project from PAEC. But, due to technical differences, the Corps of Engineers took over the command of Project-706 from Abdul Qadeer Khan as its part of the atomic bomb project, beginning the transferring the responsibility from the Directorate of Science and Technology to the military. By June 1976, the team of scientists and engineers under the physicist Ghulam Dastagir Allam began rotating the first experimental centrifuges at the Air Force Science Research Laboratories.
|“||"We were not just making the bomb, but building science and technology....||”|
—Munir Khan describing the atomic bomb efforts,
In 1976, Khan tasked Ishfaq Ahmad and Ahsan Mubarak to search for a suitable nuclear test site. With the backing and support of the XII Corps, the team searched for a high scalar altitude graphite-mountain that would be suitable to take more than ~40kn of nuclear force when the chain reaction from a uranium or plutonium-based nuclear device using lithium /or beryllium reflectors. The team completed the site selection and development work of the nuclear test sites at Chaghi and Kharan in Baluchistan by 1980. Meanwhile, the TPG now started to directly report to Khan after Salam, and completed the research on Fast neutron calculations, hydrodynamics, and the designing of the fission weapons by 1978 and by 1982–83, work on the bomb was completed by PAEC.
The joint work of the various groups working in the Directorate of Technical Development and the Theoretical Physics Group in PAEC led to the first cold-test of a working atomic bomb on 11 March 1983, without the fissile material to prevent the nuclear fission, on a site that Munir Khan codenamed Kirana-I. A test team headed by Ishfaq Ahmad, the test's preparation and calculations were oversaw by Khan; other invitees to witness the test included senior statesman that Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and senior military officers including general Khalid Arif.
One of Khan's achievements is his technical leadership of the atomic bomb project, modelled on the Manhattan Project that prevented the exploitation and politicisation of the atomic bomb project into the hands of politicians, lawmakers, and the military officials. Khan focused on developing the atomic weapons and a diverse nuclear program, and regarded this clandestine atomic bomb project as building the science and technology for the country.
1974 was a difficult year for Pakistan and it was anticipated that Pakistan would now have to face international embargoes and sanctions on acquisition of nuclear technology and equipment from supplier states. So a long-term effort was launched for the indigenous production of spare parts, equipment and components for the atom bomb and the energy project.
To oversaw the uranium enrichment programme, a Coordination Board was set up to manage and supervise the project with Khan remained the scientific director of atomic bomb project. This Board was headed by senior statesman Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and had AGN Kazi, Agha Shahi and Khan as its members. However due to management differences, the military took control of the Project-706 with General Zahid Ali Akbar as its director while Abdul Qadeer Khan was made its chief scientist.
During a visit to PAEC's Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), in November 1986, the President of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq praised the work being carried out in PAEC. He wrote in the visitor's book:
|“||It has been a matter of great pride and satisfaction to see what all is going on in (Pakistan) Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). It was heartening to see the progress that has taken place..... I congratulate Munir and his associates for all that they have done.... The People of Pakistan are proud of their achievements and pray for their success in the future.||”|
Plutonium test: Chagai-II
From the outset, Khan focused on the indigenous development of a plutonium program as part of the fuel cycle. Despite many difficulties, Khan and PAEC successfully developed and managed the plutonium infrastructure. Khan lobbied and enlightened the importance of plutonium-tritium device and countered the scientific opposition that was led by fellow scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who opposed the plutonium route and favoured the uranium atomic bomb. Khan concentrated the development efforts on plutonium implosion-type fission device, in a single group of TPG, which became to known as Chagai-II. Khan countered and later abandoned the developmental efforts on uranium gun-type fission weapon, when on developing the theoretical design, a problem was discovered by TPG who put efforts to work with Qadeer Khan on gun-type in 1976.
The gun-type fission weapon is a simpler design that only had to work with uranium-235 but a possibility of weapon's chain reaction to reach the limit of fizzle level was identified; therefore, the TPG and Khan abandoned the gun design in favour of an implosion-type weapon. In 1983, a milestone was done when a joint work of scientists produced the artificial non-nuclear fission reaction at Kirana Atomic Tests Site (KATS) where the reactor-grade plutonium was used to defer the weapon to go fission. In May 1998, the success of plutonium bomb was proved when it was reported that PAEC conducted a test of a powerful plutonium device, Chagai-II, to artificially produced the nuclear fission, and this plutonium device had the largest yield of all the uranium bombs.
In 1999, Khan described the large scientific efforts and PAEC's contribution in heading up and building Pakistan's atomic bomb project, as he stated:
In 1979-80, the PAEC completed the iron-steel tunnels in Chagai region. On March 11, 1983, we successfully conducted [our] (cold) test of a working atomic bomb. That evening, I went to General Zia with the news that Pakistan was now ready to make an atomic bomb. We conducted this cold test long before the fissile material was available for actual test. We were ahead of others.....—Munir Ahmad Khan, Statement giving to news media in 1999, source.
Arms race with India
After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's removal, the atomic bomb project was no longer a secret to the world, especially India who was alarmed by the success of this crash program. Therefore, Indian premier Indira Gandhi took aggressive measure to advanced and modernise the Indian nuclear programme as well as Indian Indian space programme. In 1980, India launched its first artificial satellite, RS-D1 through its successful development of Satellite Launch Vehicle. As military policy maker, Khan began to initiated several defence and conventional weapons-related projects in PAEC during his tenure as Chairman, which included ballistic missile projects and laser products for the Pakistan Armed Forces. In 1980, Khan also helped achieved the autonomous status of Space Research Commission, with appointing nuclear engineer Salim Mehmud as its administrator. In 1981, Khan lobbied for developing country's first military satellite and took participation in the development of the country's first satellite. In 1990, the Badr-I was launched, making Pakistan first country to have gained expertise in manufacturing the satellites.
In 1986, Khan received approval to develop unguided-gravity bombs, tactical weapons for PAF's Air Force Strategic Command, and this programme was completed in 1990 with the tactical weapons were successfully fitted in PAF's Mirage V, A-5 Fantan, and the F-16 Falcon when the F-16s successfully performed and mastered the low-level laydown aerial techniques, conventional free-fall drop (a method to drop gravitated nuclear bomb through fighter jets), loft bombing method, and the complex aerodynamic method of toss-bombing, a method of launching tactical nuclear weapons through jets while the pilot and the aircraft escape the radiation region. Khan, on numerous occasions, criticised India for its nuclear programme in many international conferences and meetings, and in 1999, Khan defended Pakistan's non-nuclear weapon policy as well as the nuclear tests when he summed up his thoughts:
In 1972, we (Pakistan) made a [nuclear policy] statement... that [Pakistan] wanted a nuclear-free zone in South Asia (so) that the resources in the sub-continent could be focused on solving problems of poverty and deprivation of [one] billion people in this region of the world. But India did not listen to (Pakistan).... Now that we have responded to India's nuclear aggression, (Pakistan) hope that they will listen to us...
After Bhutto's removal, the atomic bomb project was no longer a secret in the world; and Khan became a national spokesperson, emblematic of a new type of technocratic power. Khan soon became principle public adviser of government advising on key non-nuclear proliferation issues while countering the international pressure. Soon, Khan was surprised on 7 June 1981, when Israel completed a surprise attack on Iraq's nuclear program under the mission code "Operation Opera". After the incident Pakistan Government placed its Air Force on high alert to defend country's nuclear development programme as the ISI learned a parallel operation might be led by India. The year after, Pakistan's ISI secretly learned that Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has given green signal to Indian Air Force launch a surprise attack on the New Laboratories and the Kahuta National Laboratories (KNL) at Kahuta, under the mission code "Attack on Kahuta". During this time, the Chief of Air Staff General Anwar Shamim responded by giving standing orders to high-alert the Air Force Strategic Command and therefore, launched a counter-operation, "Operation Sentinel" to counter the Indian' surprise air strikes.
in 1983, Khan was attending IAEA General Conference along with his Indian counterpart Raja Ramana. The Foreign Office directed a secret-coded message, through Ambassador of Pakistan to Austria Abdul Sattar, to Khan who soon met Raja Ramana at the Imperial Hotel at Vienna, Austria. At there, his Indian counterpart did confirm about the possible surgical attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities. During their conversation, he told the Chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission that an Indian attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities would trigger a possible Pakistan retaliatory strike on Indian nuclear facilities at Trombay, which will result in the release of radioactivity causing a major disaster. Raja Ramana held a meeting with Indira Gandhi and conveyed Pakistan's possible response. Indira Gandhi immediately postponed the surprise attack, and subsequently the matter was shelved. Following these events, Indian and Pakistani officials met for negotiations and agreed that both countries would not attack each other's nuclear facilities.
Government work and diplomacy
In 1975, Khan embarked his international career as public policy maker of Pakistan when he represented Pakistan delegation in France to acquire a Reprocessing Plant at Chashma from CEA and the reprocessing plant from British Nuclear Fuel Limited (BNFL), which were to be under IAEA safeguards. However, despite Khan's efforts, the project was cancelled by France and Britain, but Pakistan had acquired 95% of detailed plans; the fuel and the designs. Khan with Hafeez Qureshi designed and led an ingenious construction of un-safeguarded reprocessing plant, New Laboratories to produced weapon-grade plutonium which was completed between 1981–1982 without foreign assistance.
In 1985, Khan lobbied for another plutonium production plant at Khushab, which is known as Khushab Nuclear Complex; and gained the approval of Khushab-I— a multipurpose heavy water plant, and a tritium production complex. In 1987, Khan's intensified lobbying for nuclear technology project paid off when he gained approval from Prime minister Khan Juneijo for further weapon-development project. In 1989, Khan was given a government honour and made Minister of State of Ministry of Science by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who shifted his office to Prime minister Secretariat, an official residence of Prime minister. Khan who served as the Science Advisor to the government since 1983, played an integral role in Pakistan's nuclear policy and remained a vital figure in military affairs, advising the military in conventional nuclear weapons development and methods of launching them.
A grand ceremony was held in Beijing where Foreign minister Sahab-zada Yaqub Khan signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan in the presence of Khan and the Chinese Premier Li Peng. This accord opened the way for Pakistan to receive Chinese assistance in setting up four 300MWe commercial nuclear power reactors under IAEA safeguards at Chashma city. Therefore, PAEC reached an agreement with China in November 1989 for the supply of a 300MWe CHASHNUPP-I commercial nuclear power plant. In February 1990, President Mitterrand of France visited Pakistan and announced that France had agreed to supply a 900 MWe commercial nuclear power reactor to Pakistan which was to be under IAEA safeguards. However,following the dismissal of the government of Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in August 1990, the French nuclear power plant went into cold storage and the agreement could not be implemented due to financial constraints and the Pakistan government's apathy during the successive periods.
Shortly afterward, Khan stated that the signing of civil nuclear cooperation agreements with China and France had broken a fifteen-year virtual embargo by western states on the supply of nuclear power plants to Pakistan.
When Abdus Salam was ejected from his position in 1974, Khan symbolised of many scientists thinking they could control how other peers would use their research. During the timeline of atomic bomb project, Khan was seen as a symbol of both moral responsibility of scientists, and to the contribution to the rise of Pakistan's science while preventing the politicisation of the project. Popular depiction of Khan's views on nuclear proliferation as a confrontation between right-wing militarists (symbolised by Abdul Qadeer Khan) and left-wing intellectuals (symbolised by Munir Khan) over the moral question of weapons of mass destruction. Babar portrayed Khan as "tragic fate but consciously genius", and also dubbed him as "Nuclear Sage" of Pakistan. In 1999, Khan staunchly the backed his country's nuclear technology project, as he puts it:
The genius of Pakistan (since its establishment in 1947) is her science and her scientists and engineers. Mixing science with politics is very, very dangerous. This will contaminate the politics which is never clean, with radioactivity, and it will destroy the science as we witnessed in [Nazi] Germany in 1940s when their atomic bomb project was politicised for [absolute] political gain. Without a comprehensive [nuclear and political] policy, things do not work, and no country can go developed its nuclear project without having some kind of framework in which to operate. We had to develop a political strategy to launch our project without arousing great deal of suspicion and opposition at the international level, because no body in the world wanted to see Pakistan to became nuclear power. But we had no choice [as mentioned by Bhutto in 1965]. I can tell you...... that it is not only the Western countries; we were wronged by some of the countries who we regard as our friends. It is not because the people in those countries oppose this project, but the government’s felt, the rulers felt that Pakistan would become too strong.—Munir Ahmad Khan, statement on May 1999, 
As a scientist, Khan is remembered by his peers as brilliant researcher and engaging teacher, the founder of nuclear engineering in Pakistan. In spite of his academic discipline, Khan had diverse interests in nuclear physics and theoretical physics where he researched and worked under his mentor Abdus Salam on many problems arising theoretical physics and the nuclear engineering. An award, Munir Ahmad Khan Gold Medal, is named after him at Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences. After years of urging of many of Khan's colleagues in PAEC and his powerful political friends who had ascended to power in the government, President Asif Ali Zardari bestowed and awarded Khan the prestigious and highest civilian state award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 2012 as a gesture of political rehabilitation.
As military and public policy maker, Khan was a technocrat leader in a shift between science and military, and the emergence of the concept of the big science in Pakistan. During the Cold war, scientists became involved in military research on unprecedented degree, because of the threat communism and Indian integration posed to Pakistan, scientists volunteered in great numbers both for technological and organizational assistance to Pakistan's efforts that resulted in powerful tools such as laser rangefinder, the proximity fuse and operations research. As a cultured, intellectual, nuclear engineer who became a disciplined military organiser, Khan represented the shift away from the idea that scientists had their "head in the clouds" and that knowledge on such previously esoteric subjects as the composition of the atomic nucleus had no "real-world" applications .
Quotes by Khan
- "We have to understand that nuclear weapons are not a play thing to be bandied publicly. They have to be treated with respect and responsibility. While they can destroy the enemy, they can also invite self destruction."
- "While we were building capabilities in the nuclear fuel cycle, we started in parallel the design of a nuclear device, with its trigger mechanism, physics calculations, production of metal, making precision mechanical components, high-speed electronics, diagnostics, and testing facilities. For each one of them, we established different laboratories".
- "Many sources were tapped after the decision to go nuclear. We were simultaneously working on 20 labs and projects under the administrative control of PAEC, every one the size of Khan Research Laboratories."
- "On 11 March 1983, we successfully conducted the first cold test of a working nuclear device. That evening, I went to General Zia with the news that Pakistan was now ready to make a nuclear device."
- In 1977, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto instructed his children, Benazir and Murtaza, to keep in touch with the Chairman of PAEC. In 1978, Munir Khan told Benazir and Murtaza that the designing process of the bomb was completed and, Zulfikar Bhutto expected the nuclear test in August 1978. Munir Khan then told Murtaza and Benazir that the tests are moved to December 1978, but delayed indefinitely due to political and diplomatic considerations of the country. Benazir Bhutto, however, continued her ties with Munir Khan and awarded him the Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 1989 for his services to Pakistan's nuclear program in developing nuclear fuel cycle technology for the country.
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- 20 Years VIC (1979–1999), ECHO, Journal of the IAEA Staff- No. 202, pp. 24–25
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- Hamende, A.M.; Munir Ahmad Khan (22 November 1997). "Tribute to Abdus Salam: §A Long Friendship with Abdus Salam". Unesco Science Journal (Trieste, Italy: A.M. Hamende of the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)) 1 (1): 101–159. Retrieved 2011.
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MGen Zahid A. Akbar
|Science Advisor to the Prime minister Secretariat
5 July 1977 – 1 August 1993