Dr. Ishrat Hussain Usmani

oie_2872139cWpjHHRmSome great minds of our nation are hidden underneath the waves of our beaches. Their life’s work overshadowed by the unimportant, the trivial. Scientists make discoveries everyday. This very moment some amazing mind would be thinking about the next best invention, but do we care for them at all? Do we value their wisdom and intelligence? Let’s ponder upon one such holy grail of Pakistan. One such persona that was amongst us, and needs to be revived.

I-H-Usmani-543-x-275I am talking about Dr. Ishrat Hussain Usmani. His majestic thinking abilities brought Pakistan forth as a strong nuclear power. As we all know, with friends there are foes and adversaries. By 1971, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) had turned into one of the world’s best nuclear organizations led by Dr. I. H. Usmani. He was responsible for developing many nuclear programs and facilities that would help Pakistan in becoming one of the world’s nuclear nations.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968

A big achievement of Dr. Usmani was getting Pakistan to sign the NPT treaty (Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapon treaty) whose objective is to prevent the misuse of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. It is an international organization which aims at bringing peace and harmony to the world.

Dr. Usmani also rendered efforts to send students abroad for further education. He saw education as pivotal for any country’s success and considered this a stepping stone for Pakistan’s youth.

This was all happening in democratic government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Although Dr. I. H. Usmani was close to Bhutto but in later years he started developing some differences and had a different frame of mind than him. This happened because Bhutto started to interfere in his work.

 Dr. I. H. Usmani and Saleemuzzaman Siddiqui
Dr. I. H. Usmani and Saleemuzzaman Siddiqui

After the 1971 war, the differences between the two became ever increasing due to difference in point of view which brought a clash when it came to policy formation. Bhutto wanted to weaponize Pakistan’s nuclear power while Dr. Usmani wanted to use it for peaceful means such as power generation. Dr Abdus Salam maintained a meeting between Butto and Usmani which was later called the Multan Meeting to resolve these issues. Unfortunately for Dr. Usmani, his point of view was rejected by most of Pakistan’s scientific body. Bhutto saw his chance and took it. He replaced him with Munir Ahmed Khan as the chairman of PAEC.

It was a sad demise for the scientist because a true talent was not recognized. True, Usmani was a great critic and his ways may have been harsh but this let down was uncalled for. We cannot question history but only learn from it. We should not waste away talent but cherish it. Dr . I.H. Usmani was a great man and should be revived in our history books.


Ayesha Kaleem

Executive Publications-NUST Science Society


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