Muhammad Hafeez Qureshi

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Muhammad Hafeez Qureshi
Born 28 January 1930
Kapurthala, Punjab, British India
Died 11 August 2007(2007-08-11) (aged 77)
Wah Cantt, Pakistan
Residence Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT)
Citizenship Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Fields Mechanical Engineering
Institutions Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission
Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology
Alma mater Karachi University
Michigan State University
Academic advisors Dr. Michael David Burton
Known for Nuclear Deterrent Program
Influenced Dr. Naeem Ahmad Khan
Notable awards Sitara-e-Imtiaz (1992)
Hilal-i-Imtiaz (2000)

Muhammad Hafeez Qureshi (Urdu: محمد حفيظ قريشى; January 28, 1930 – August 11, 2007), SI, HI, popular as Hafeez Qureshi, was a Pakistani nuclear scientist and a mechanical engineer, known for his classified work at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).[1]

Known for being a director of PAEC's secretive divisions charged with testings of nuclear materials, he oversaw the work on weapon systems manufacturing and gained expertise on engineering applications of nuclear physics and mechanics. However, he is more famed of spearheading Pakistan's quest for nuclear capability.[2]


Early life and education[edit]

Muhammad Hafeez Qureshi was born in Kapurthala, British India to an Indian Muslim family, and migrated to Pakistan after the Indian partition in 1947; only to settle in Karachi, Sindh.[2] Upon matriculating from a local high school, Qureshi enrolled at the Karachi University in 1956; he partly supported his studies by working as a motor mechanic.[2] In romny at the university, his schoolmate and friend was a future famous Optical physicist dr. Muhammad Jameel— an optical physicist who was also present at that time when Pakistan tested its nuclear devices in Ras Koh Hills.[2] He attained BSc in Physics and earned a scholarship to resume his studies at the Michigan State University in the United States.[3]

At the Michigan University, Qureshi enrolled at the engineering department and gained BS in Mechanical engineering, followed by the MS, also in mechanical engineering.[3] His mechanical engineering thesis contained the work on the applications of the materials strength.[3] After his master's degree, Hafeez Qureshi came back to Pakistan where he joined Karachi Mechanical Laboratories (KML) and was given the charge of the Mechanical Engineering Department (MED).[2] Shortly, he left KML and through Muhammad Jameel, Qureshi joined Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in 1963, where he joined the physics staff led by dr. Naeem Ahmad Khan.[3]

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission[edit]

After joining the PAEC, Qureshi joined the senior staff at the Atomic Energy Center located in Lahore in 1963, where he worked at the mechanical shop at the center.[2] At the center, Qureshi supervised the installation of the experimental facility for particle physics research– a neutron generator.[2] In 1965, Qureshi moved to Nilore to join the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) where he was part of the team that supervised the construction of nuclear pilePARR-I— at Pinstech in Nilore which went critical in 1965.[4][5] While at Institute of Nuclear Science, Qureshi grew closer to dr. Naeem Ahmad Khan, a nuclear physicist, who was a director of the Nuclear Physics Division (NPD).[6] Dr. Naeem Ahmad remained his lifelong mentor and friend who realized his extraordinary talent of adapting solutions of complex mechanical problems. Invited by Naeem Ahmad, Qureshi joined the division containing Sultan Mahmood and dr. Samar Mubarakmand to engage in studies on meaningful methods of enrichment process of Uranium.[6]

In early of 1971, dr. Naeem Ahmad founded the Radiation Isotope Application Division (RIAD) at the Institute of Nuclear Science, where he called Qureshi to join the division under him.[7] In December 1971, Qureshi was made director of the RIAD with support provided from dr. Naeem Ahmad.[8]

1971 war and atomic bomb project[edit]

Soon after learning about India's nuclear test, Qureshi was summoned by Munir Ahmad Khan in March 1974, where he attended the meeting with Munir Ahmad Khan, Abdus Salam, Riazuddin, Ishfaq Ahmad, and Munir Ahmad Rashid.[8] At this meeting, Qureshi was tasked with developing the mechanical components, tampers, and explosive optical lenses necessary for detonation of the weapon. Instructions were given by Munir Ahmad Khan to Qureshi that he joins hands on a project of national importance with another expert, dr. Zaman Sheikh, a chemical engineer from DESTO.[8] A codename, Wah Group Scientist (WGS), was given for the group that was established.[8][9][10] Another session was held on the feasibility of the weapon which was attended by Abdus Salam and Riazuddin as the representatives of Theoretical Physics Group (TPG); Asghar Qadir and Munir Ahmad Rashid of Mathematical Physics Group; Ishfaq Ahmad of Nuclear Physics Division; and Qureshi and dr. Zaman of Wah Group Scientists (WGS).[11] During the meeting, the word Bomb was never used, instead the scientists used scientific research rationale.[12] There, the scientists decided to develop an 'implosion' over the 'gun' type fission device citing economy in the use of fissile material.[13]

The WGS also took initiatives in high precision mechanical and chemical components —how tempers would be developed to produce the efficiency and high precision data – physics calculations – what would its appropriate time reaction when the explosives makes contact with nuclear material, high explosives—what kind of chemical material would be used, and triggering mechanisms —how the weapon would be detonated.[14] The Pinstech had lack of facility to carry out these experiments in its laboratories, therefore on 25 March 1974, Abdus Salam, along with Munir Ahmad Khan and Riazuddin, visited Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) where Salam held talks with Lieutenant-General Qamar Ali Mirza where military engineers first built the Metallurgical Laboratory (ML) in Wah Cantt in 1976.[15] At ML, the WGS developed the complex optical lenses and chemical high-explosive materials and triggering mechanism which the task was completed in 1979.[16][17] Concerns were raised with the absence of the CNC facility which was acquired in 1978.[3] In 1979, Qureshi worked with Munir Khan for the construction of third nuclear pile–PARR-III– near at Nilore. The reactor's designing process was led by Munir Ahmad Khan and Qureshi and Corps of Engineers led the construction of this plutonium separation reactor.[18] In 1980, the reactor west critical under Ishfaq Ahmad and attained its full power in 1981.[19] The reactor was reprocessed at 50% efficiency, and produces the first batch of weapon-grade plutonium in 1982.[20]

Directorate for Technical Development (DTD)[edit]

On 11 March 1983, Qureshi and Zaman had eye-witnessed the successful cold-fission test, codename Kirana-I, near at the Kirana Hills.[21] Both engineers were charged with another task to form, this division known as Directorate for Technical Development (DTD). The DTD examined the same problems as previous WGS, this time with improvising the techniques every time PAEC carried the tests.[22] In the 1990s, the DTD had carried out witnessed the tests of 24 different improved designs, developed by Theoretical Physics Group (TPG).[23] The PAEC had followed a very strict policy to developed the such programmes critical to national security under extreme security.[24] Qureshi later went on to participated in a highly clandestine programme led under Samar Mubarakmand in 1987.

Reciprocating India's second nuclear tests in 1998, Prime minister Nawaz Sharif gave authorization to PAEC to carry out the nuclear tests, codename Chagai-I, in Ras Koh area of Chagai Hills. Eventually, Qureshi participated and witnessed the first five tests of nuclear devices, evidently made from HEU.[25] On 30 May, PAEC carried out another test, codename Chagai-II, at Kharan desert, and it was reported to be a plutonium weapon-grade device.[26]


In 2005, Qureshi sought retirement from PAEC and began joined the mechanical engineering faculty at the Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In recognition to his services, Qureshi was the recipient of nations' highest honors including the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (1992) and Hilal-e-Imtiaz (2002) conferred by President of Pakistan. Qureshi died in Wah Cantt due to heart failure on 11 August 2007.


  • Rahman, Shahid (1998). "§The Group at Wah". In Rahman, Shahid. Long Road to Chagai. Islamabad, Pakistan: Printwise publication. pp. 2–15 and 41–105. ISBN 969-8500-00-6. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Verma, Anand K. (2001). Reassessing Pakistan : role of two nation theory. New Delhi: Lancer. ISBN 8170622875. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Khan, Feroz Hassan (2012). Eating grass the making of the Pakistani bomb (google books). Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. pp. 179–190 of 521. ISBN 0804784809. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 11
  4. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 10–11
  5. ^ a b Mahmood, Sultan Bashiruddin (15 August 2007). "Hafeez Qureshi: A great scientist passes away". The Nation, 2007. The Nation. Archived from the original on 5 August 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 70–71
  7. ^ a b c d Azam, Rai Muhammad Saleh (June 2000). "When Mountains Move – The Story of Chagai: §The Wah Group: Designers and Manufacturers of Pakistan's Nuclear Device.". Defence Journal. The Nation. Retrieved 2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 38
  9. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 70–85
  10. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 38–39
  11. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 39
  12. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 39–40
  13. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 76–78
  14. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 55–60
  15. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 85–88
  16. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 80
  17. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 51–52
  18. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 53
  19. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 109
  20. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 89–90
  21. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 91
  22. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 92–93
  23. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 100–103
  24. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 104
  25. ^ Rahman 1998, pp. 105

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