Islamabad: In an explosive claim, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, on Saturday said that the South Asian country could have become a nuclear power as early as 1984 but the then President General Zia ul Haq "opposed the move".
Addressing a gathering on the anniversary of first nuclear tests, which were carried out under his supervision in 1998, Khan said: "We were able and we had a plan to launch nuclear test in 1984. But President General Zia ul Haq (who ruled Pakistan from 1979 to 1988) had opposed the move.”
He added that General Zia opposed the nuclear testing as he believed that the world would intervene militarily.
Khan was disgraced in 2004 when he was forced to accept responsibility for proliferation and live a life of semi house arrest.
He regretted the treatment and said Pakistan would never have achieved the feat of becoming first Muslim nuclear country without his "services".
"We are facing the worst against our services to the country's nuclear program," he said referring to the humiliation he suffered.
(With PTI inputs)