ISLAMABAD - A renowned nuclear scientist and one of the architects of Pakistans nuclear programme Sultan Bashir Mahmood Thursday said that Pakistan must not sign CTBT rather it should continue with its advancement in nuclear field. In an exclusive interview with a joint team of TheNation and Nawa-i-Waqt Sultan Bashir Mahmood a retired Director General, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), related the countrys nuclear journey and interesting tale of 'Sumbal Gah turning into Kahuta Research Laboratory. If those at the helm of affairs at PAEC deem it necessary, more nuclear blasts can be conducted, he said. He also referred to his meeting with Osama bin Laden wherein the latter had shown interest in acquiring nuclear technology but his interest evaporated when Sultan Bashir Mahmood rejected the possibility saying establishing an infrastructure and gathering a team of scientists to accomplish the task was not possible. Sultan also spoke about his much publicised murky relations with Dr AQ Khan and his premature retirement and later his forming an NGO Ummah Tameer-i-Nooh with prime objective of reconstruction work in the war-ravaged Afghanistan. Ummah Tameer-i-Nooh was declared terrorist organisation soon after 9/11 by the United Nations Security Council so were the organisers of the organisation including Sultan Bashir Mahmood. When asked about his opposition to signing CTBT, which ostensibly cost him his job, Sultan Bashir Mahmood said that in his view Pakistan must not sign CTBT and should continue with its advancement in nuclear field. Even United States, Israel and some other states have not signed CTBT so far as they are continuing with more advancement in the field. To a question, he said that after the successful commissioning and functioning of Khushab Nuclear Reactor Pakistan could develop any tactical nuclear weapons and conducting thermal nuclear blasts had become meaningless. To another question he said that Khushab Nuclear Reactor was based on home-grown technology and 80 per cent of the reactor was built with the local expertise. This is a testimony that now Pakistan can build a nuclear reactor on its own, he further said. He said that Khushab Nuclear Reactor had been functioning trouble-free for over 12 years that was a great achievement. A team of young scientists, all in their late 20s and early 30s, is the moving spirit behind the project, he said. He was all praise for the people of Pakistan and said that he had not seen such a talented nation in the world. If their potential is exploited properly they can do miracles. To a question about his premature retirement and formation of an NGO Ummah Tameer-i-Nooh Sultan Bashir Mahmood said when Pakistan was planning to sign CTBT he had not only opposed it but he also wrote articles in newspapers. He even wrote letters to all the three services chiefs and the heads of all the political parties highlighting the pitfalls in doing so. He said that though he had succeeded in his efforts and Pakistan did not sign CTBT yet the move had cost him his job and he was forced to take premature retirement. He said that he was forced to bow out at wrong time as he wanted to do more for the countrys nuclear programme, but the circumstances had barred him to do so. He said that then along with a few like-minded people he founded Ummah Tameer-i-Nooh with focus on reconstruction of the war-ravaged Afghanistan. He said that his colleagues and he had done a lot in restoring communication links, refurbishing waterworks, helping people in developing agriculture on scientific lines for which the Afghan Government had allocated them with 12000 acres of land, helping them in mineral and oil exploration. He said that he had twice met with Mullah Omar and in the first meeting he told Mullah Omar not to rely on the donor agencies and NGOs as they were bushing them to a permanent dependence on aid and focus on developing indigenous resources. Mullah Omar listened to his submissions carefully and promised to materialize his advice. On the second occasion, Sultan Bashir said that he had taken up the issue of awarding contacts of mineral exploration to foreign companies and advised him to formulate a policy keeping in view the interests of the Afghan nation. Upon this Mullah Omar had directed his Ministry of Mineral Development to come up with a concrete policy. He also referred to his meeting with Osama bin Laden when he along with his Ummah Tameer-i-Nooh colleagues was seeking some funds for the rehabilitation of poly technical institute in Kabul. He said that during the meeting Osama bin Laden showed interest in seeking nuclear technology but when he (Sultan Bashir) ruled out the possibility he(Osama) did not press further and on his request provided funds for the reconstruction of poly technical institute. He said that in the post 9/11 scenario the Bush administration had managed to get his organisation Ummah Tanmeer-i-Nooh declared a terrorist outfit from the UN Security Council and he was also labelled as terrorist. He also referred to being interrogated by a US team, which could not find anything objectionable against him and added that as they were only engaged in the reconstruction of Afghanistan so there was nothing wrong against them. To a question that Dr AQ Khan was termed the father of Pakistans nuclear programme Sultan Bashir Mahmood said that DR AQ Khan was one of the scientists engaged with the countrys nuclear programme and giving all credit to him would be doing injustice with the rest of the members who had all selflessly contributed towards the accomplishment of the task. Tracing back the history of the countrys nuclear programme Sultan Bashir Mahmood said that in late 1960s a team of scientists including Dr Naeem Ahmad Khan and Dr Samar Mubarrak Mand had started working on centrifuge designing but in 1972 the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had formally given a go ahead signal and Munir Ahmad Khan was made the first chairman of the project which started work in the left-over barracks of Army in Chaklala Rawalpindi under the guise of Airport Development Workshop. He said that he was among the pioneer members with Munir Ahmad Khan and they started contacts with people who could be helpful to them within the country and abroad. He said that he was the first person, who had held meeting with Dr AQ Khan in Belgium on the direction of Munir Ahmad Khan. He further said that Dr Khan was working in Holland and had approached Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had referred him to Munir Ahmad Khan. Sultan Bashir Mahmood said that they were having the broad-based contacts with so many people at that time and Dr AQ Khan was one of them. Later, he came over to Pakistan in 1976 and formally joined the programme as Deputy Director, Research. Referring to his estranged ties with Dr AQ Khan he said that initially he was quite cooperative but later the working atmosphere turned tense due to his behaviour. He said that in the meantime he was abruptly detached from project on couple of charges and it was said that he had wasted money on purchase of Maraging Steel worth millions of rupees which was not required and secondly he was dubbed as Qadiani. He said that he was cleared of both the charges as the purchase of Maraging Steel was justified and he had purchased it for future use while in the inquiry the charge of being Qadiani was also cleared. He said that though an attempt to politicise the countrys nuclear programme was made but the saner elements in the project prevailed upon the situation and managed to control the damage and he was moved to other project. Sultan Bashir Mahmood also narrated the interesting story of how the site for countrys nuclear programme was selected. He said that they were hunting for the suitable place across the country and for three months they visited parts of Balochistan, NWFP, Punjab and Sindh but could not find the place having maximum of requisites. He said that on way back from Pattan, a locality on the bank of River Jhelum a semi-hilly area, they stayed at the place for luncheon. While taking lunch one of their colleagues pointed to a place below with a bunch of thick trees and a small village. They walked down to the place after lunch and found it fit for their job. The place was named 'Sumbal Gah (the house of Sumbal trees) and it was also approved by the army on security grounds since it was the cup-shaped place, which could not be attacked easily by the enemy planes.