Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad SI, HI, NI, senior most Pakistani nuclear physicist, former head of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and former science advisor to Government of Pakistan has passed away at the age of 87. He was suffering from pneumonia and was receiving medical treatment.
Following the reports of Dr. Ahmad’s death, PAEC acknowledged the departed scientist’s contribution, saying Dr. Ahmad’s services in the field of nuclear energy were commendable.
Dr. I. E. Qureshi, Ex- Chief Scientist PAEC, and former Executive Director COMSATS wrote in his obituary, “Apart from his family members and relatives, he also left behind thousands of Pakistani scientists and engineers as members of his extended family of PAEC colleagues. They are all grieving for the loss of the family head, who was loved and respected due to his sterling qualities of mind and spirit. Millions of those who knew him through his contributions for Pakistan will also be mourning and praying for the departed soul”.
Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed was versatile theoretical physicist who made significant contributions in nuclear, particle and quantum electrodynamics. He played his vital role in establishing various research institutes in Pakistan in the field of Nuclear Sciences. He played pivotal and figurative part in both atomic and nuclear power program of Pakistan.
Upon his sad demise, Dr. N. M. Butt, former Director-General of the Nuclear Physics Division (NPD), Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) expressed his grief condolence said, “I lost a senior benevolent colleague about fifty-nine years starting from Government College Lahore in 1959 and ending today. May Allah bless his soul with peace in heavens”.
In 1989, Dr. Ahmad was bequeathed with first state honour, Sitara-e-Imtiaz; and next Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 1995 by then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Dr. Ahmad remained the head of the Nuclear Physics Division at PINSTECH during 1970s which developed the first designs of atomic bombs. During this time period, he played an eminenet role in leading the physics calculations in the critical mass of the weapons, and did theoretical work on the implosion method used in the weapons.
Dr. Ahmad was motivated and passionate to study Physics, he received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Physics in 1949 and 1951, respectively. His under and postgraduate education was supervised by eminent Nuclear Physicist Dr. Tahir Hussain.
Dr. Ahmad travelled to Canada in 1954 to attend world’s prestigious university Université de Montréal on his mentor’s advice. Where he did two-year long course in Particle Physics under the supervision of Dr. John Cockcroftin 1957.
During his long doctoral studies, Dr. Ahmad studied nuclear reaction at the Montreal Laboratory with supervisors and scientists’ role in the Manhattan Project.
Dr. Ahmad joined European Organization for Nuclear Research (commonly known as CERN) in 1962 as both a post-doctoral fellow and Nuclear Physicist. Dr. Ahmad widely brought out his research at Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) as a research scientist at CERN. He also directed the designing of Synchrocyclotron collider (SC) while staying in CERN.
He recalled his CERN experience in 1994: in his own words he told, “In 1994, I visited CERN as chairman of PAEC. During my visit in 1994, I was fascinated to see the exciting developments in physics that were taking place at CERN, and I had only one wish— that my own country, Pakistan— should somehow become involved in scientific collaboration with CERN, and that our physicists and engineers could also become part of the most advanced, challenging and rewarding scientific endeavour: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC).”
In 1971, Dr. Ishfaq was appointed director of PINSTECH and served this institution till 1976. He was named as Chairman of PAEC in 1991, after he replaced his friend Munir Ahmad Khan.
Mamnoon Hussain President of Pakistan and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on behalf of the entire nation, expressed deepest condolences over the death of eminent scientists. Various important national figures sent condolence messages to the sadden family.