After receiving his early education in Bhopal, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan obtained the degree of Bachelor of Science in 1960 from the University of Karachi. He went on to study in Berlin, West Germany and achieved high competence through attending several courses in metallurgical engineering.
He obtained the degree of Master of Science (Technology) in 1967 from Delft Technological University of Leuven, Belgium. In 1976, he joined the Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL) in Pakistan and set up a uranium enrichment industrial plant. As a tribute to his services to Pakistan, during May 1981, the president of Pakistan, renamed the Engineering Research Laboratories, Kahuta, as, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).
The scientific contributions of Dr Khan had been recognized in several ways. As an active scientist and technologist, he published more than 188 scientific research papers in international journals of high repute. He was the editor of a large number of books on metallurgy, advanced materials and phase transformation. His academic and scholastic activities attracted the attention of number of western countries where he delivered more than 100 lectures. His work on Industrial Uranium Enrichment Plant for peaceful application of nuclear technology resulted in a breakthrough in the field of metallurgy and materials science. It was entirely due to his efforts that the process of enrichment of Uranium was successfully completed in Pakistan. This breakthrough ultimately resulted in the historic explosion of six nuclear bombs in May 1998.
Not only this, but a significant development was also made with the successful test firing of Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, Ghauri1 in April 1998 and Ghauri II in April 1999. Dr A. Q. Khan received honorary degrees of Doctor of Science from the University of Karachi in 1993, Doctor of Science from Baqai Medical University on (1998), Doctor of Science from Hamdard University, Karachi (1999) and Doctor of Science from the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore in December 2000. For his contributions in the field of science and technology, the President of Pakistan conferred upon Dr Khan the award of Nishan-I-Imtiaz 1996 and 1998. Dr Khan was the only Pakistani to have received the highest civil award of “Nishan-I-Imtiaz’’ twice. He was also a recipient of Hilal-I-Imtiaz.
Dr A. Q. Khan was a Fellow of Kazakh National Academy of Sciences, the first Asian scientist with this honour, elected Fellow of the Islamic Academy of Sciences and Honorary Member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology. He was elected unopposed to the post of President of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences in 1997. He was a member of many national and international professional organizations including the Pakistan Institute of Metallurgical Engineers; Pakistan Institute of Engineers; and Institute of Central and West Asian Studies.He was a Member of the Institute of Materials, London; American Society of Metals (ASM); Canadian Institute of Metals (CIM) and Japan Institute of Metals (JIM).
Prof. Abdul Qadeer Khan was on the Boards of Governors of numerous universities and institutes. He was a Member of the Executive Committee, GIK Institute of Engineering and Technology; Member, Board of Governors, Hamdard University; Member, Board of Governors, Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology; Member Syndicate, Quaidi-I-Azam university, Islamabad ; and Member, Board of Governors, International Islamic University, Islamabad.
On 26 August 2021, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was admitted to DR. A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories Hospital (KRL) after he was tested positive for COVID-19. On 10 October 2021, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan died at the age of 85 in Islamabad after being transferred to KRL Hospital with lung problems.