Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad is a nuclear physicist, and well-known educationist and academic. A versatile theoretical physicist, Dr. Ishfaq made significant contributions in nuclear, particle and quantum electrodynamics. He played an important role in establishing research institutes in Nuclear sciences in Pakistan. During 1970s, Dr. Ishfaq was the head of the Nuclear Physics Division at the secret Pinstech Institute which developed the first designs of atomic bombs. There, he played an influential 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.
Prior to 1960s, he also led the Reactor technology government projects in different countries, and served as lead project coordinator on behalf of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He was the chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from 1991–2001 when he replaced his lifelong friend Munir Ahmad Khan as chairman in 1991.
One of the top and leading scientists of Pakistan, Ahmad played an important, pioneering, and a central figurative role in bothatomic bomb program and the Nuclear power program. Having headed the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Ahmad rose to international fame in May 1998 when he headed PAEC as a chairman while conducted the country'ssuccessful nuclear tests in Balochistan Province.
Motivated and passionate to study Physics, Ahmad attended Punjab University where he received his B.Sc. in Physics in 1949, followed M.Sc. in Physics in 1951. His master thesis were entitled, "Nuclear Energy and its Physics" from the same institution. He was also awarded Honours diploma with his Master's degree in science. His Undergraduate and Postgraduate education was supervised by renowned nuclear physicist Dr. Tahir Hussain. On his mentor's advise, Ahmad travelled to Canada to attend world's prestigious university known for its nuclear technology research.
In 1954, he went to Quebec, Canada under a Columbo Plan Fellowship program to pursue graduate studies in Nuclear physics at the Université de Montréal. He did a two year long course in Particle physics under the supervision of dr. John Cockcroftin 1957. In 1959, he was awarded a D.Sc. in Nuclear Physics where his doctoral dissertation dealt with on "The Atom bombardment in Nuclear fission and Pseudo-vector meson's physics". His thesis were written on fluent French and English language, and reluctantly returned to Pakistan under the terms of Colombo Plan contract.
During his doctoral studies, Ahmad joined the Montreal Laboratory and served there as lead senior scientist. At the laboratory, he gained expertise, under the supervision of numerous scientists who previously had work on Manhattan Project, to the fields of Thermonuclear fission, Thermonuclear fusion technology, Reactor Technology and Physics. Upon his return to Pakistan, he joined the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) as a senior scientist.
From 1952 to 1960, Ahmad served as a visiting professor of nuclear physics at the Government College University. The same year, he joined Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission as a senior scientific officer. He kept his position till 1966. In 1961, he went to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he become a visiting post-doctorals fellow at the Niels Bohr Institute for Theoretical Physics. In 1962, Ahmad joined European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN as both a post-doctoral fellow and nuclear physicist.
As a senior research scientist at the CERN, Ahmad extensively carried out his research at Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS). Ahmad led the designing of ISC and Synchrocyclotron collider during his stay in CERN. From 1963–1964, Ahmad traveled to Canada and joined his Alma mater, Université de Montréal and University of Ottawa as a post doctoral research fellow. There, he began to carried out his research in the field of nuclear physics at the Montreal Laboratory. Prior to 1960s, he also performed experiments at Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy of Denmark and the Meuse/Haute Marne Underground Research Laboratory of France.
He also served as a secretary of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from 1967–1969. In 1969, he became a post doctoral fellow at the University of Paris. However, on Dr. Abdus Salam's request, he came back to Pakistan where he was as appointed a director of Pakistan Atomic Energy Center (PAEC-L) Lahore. In Lahore, Ahmad carried out his work in the theory of proton decay under Abdus Salam. Ahmad applied the Path integral formulation to analyze the hypothetical smaller decay emitted by the protons. Ahmad introduced the Chiral anomaly to calculate the pion decays in his work. Under Salam, Ahmad also pioneered in theory of beta decay where he successfully converted the proton, viaweak force, into neutron. Ahmad presented his work to Abdus Salam, for which, he impressed Salam about his discovery. Ahmad later contributed in P-P chain reaction, and built the first Ion track along with Naeem Ahmad Khan and Noor Muhammad Butt.
In 1971, with the support of Dr. Abdus Salam, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad was appointed as a director of Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH). He served as director of the institution till 1976. Ahmad eye-witnessed the Indo-Pak War of 1971 and was one of the scientist who attended the Multan meeing in 1972. Fearing, since India also tested its nuclear device in 1974, the Indian nukes will be a major threat to his country. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad led the group of reputed nuclear physicists and chemists who discovered the sustainable process of nuclear chain reaction for the Pakistan's atomic weapon. Under Chairman of PAEC, Munir Ahmad Khan, Ishfaq Ahmad, along with the noted nuclear physicists, began to work on a nuclear device. He was made Director General of the "Nuclear Physics Division (NPD)" which was mandated to calculate the Critical mass and the multiplications of nuclear fission in an exploding of an atomic weapon. In 1976, the "Nuclear Physics Group" under the leadership of Ishfaq Ahmad, successfully produced the 10 kilograms of Yellowcake at the "PINSTECH's New Labs".
At Pinstech Laboratory, Ahmad produces the first Photographic plate to identify the fissle latter in natural uranium when it is explored. However due to its classified research, the knowledge of such detector is completely classified. The NPD developed the Thermoluminescent Dosimeter to measure the detection of alpha particles emitted in the decay of radon and thoron gases.
Ishfaq Ahmad is renowned for his research and contribution to the theory of nuclear emulsion. Ahmad spent his career studying and pioneering the work in the field nuclear emulsions. At Pinstech Laboratory, Ahmad developed a classified nuclear emulsion that provided information about the mass, charge and velocity of the particles producing the track.
As a scientist, he was heavily involved with the magnetic rings that were installed with the oscillators that triggered the nuclear fission reflectors in the atomic bomb. He played a crucial role in a Ionizing radiation and DU (oxide, metal and uranium hexafluoride gas production complex at Dera Ghazi Khan, which provides the crucial feedstock foruranium enrichment at Kahuta; and other classified projects of PAEC. As chairman of PAEC, he saw the culmination of the nuclear weapons programme, begun under Munir Ahmad Khan, from "covert to overt" status at the time of the Chaghi tests in 1998.
When PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan conducted the first cold test of nuclear weapon design, using His Majesty Explosives (HMX), on 11 March 1983, Ishfaq Ahmad led the team of scientists and engineers at the test site. The cold test of a nuclear device, codename Kirana-I, was witnessed by the PAEC Chairman Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan and other senior civilian and military officials.
Furthermore, Ishfaq Ahmad and his team of physicists, under the leadership of Munir Ahmad Khan continued cold testing different models of nuclear weapons from 1983 to 1993. In 1998, Ahmad was the head of a team of nuclear physicists at Kharan desert and Chagai Hills, where he set up a nuclear physics andnuclear implosion device research labs.
In 1991, Ishfaq Ahmad was named as Chairman of PAEC, after he replaced his lifelong friend Munir Ahmad Khan. Ahmad supervised the second commercial nuclear power plant, CHASNUPP-I, built with assistance with People's Republic of China. However, Ahmad came to international prominence when he headed PAEC to conduct country's nuclear tests, codename Chagai-I and Chagai-II, in May 1998. By the time India tested its nuclear devices under a codename Pokhran-II, Ishfaq Ahmad was visiting at Montreal Laboratory with fellow other nuclear physicists. Following the Indian tests, Ahmad left Canada and immediately returned to Pakistan where he took participation in nuclear tests.
After an immediate return, Ishfaq Ahmad received a call from Pakistan Army Combatant General Headquarters (GHQ) to report to Prime Minister Secretariat. Ishfaq Ahmad attended several meeting with Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif where he briefed Prime minister on the status and capability of Pakistan's nuclear weapon test.
After Ishfaq Ahmad's briefing, the Prime minister gave verbal authorization to PAEC order to conduct the Pakistan's first known nuclear tests at the Ras Koh Hills of the Chagai Hills District on May 28. This operation was named Chagai-I, and fission weapons were evidently made from the HEU, came from the KRL. On May 30, the PAEC scientists eye-witnessed another test, codename Chagai-II at Kharan Desert, and it was reported to be a fission made from weapon grade plutonium. The total yield was reported to be 40kt of nuclear force released by the nuclear weapons at the Ras Koh Hills.
Ishfaq Ahmad has been associated with IAEA since 1960s where he lobbied for Pakistan's peaceful nuclear energy programme. At IAEA, Ishfaq Ahmad is one of the most-senior scientists and advocated for peaceful use of nuclear energy tirelessly. Ahmad was part and led the Pakistan's delegation to the United Nation to the Board of Governors of International Atomic Energy Agency and the General Conference of the United Nations.
In 1986, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, led by Munir Ahmad Khan (late), visited People's Republic of China where PAEC reached a civil nuclear technology agreement with China. Later, he, along with his fellow Chinese nuclear scientists, helped Pakistan and China to form a joint-nuclear company which is known as Sino-Pak Nuclear Technology Consortium.
During the tenure in the Commission, he supervised and developed the peaceful programmes of PAEC for the defence, energy, agriculture, medicine, industry hydrology. Ahmad also advocated for peaceful use of nuclear energy in many international forums. Ahmad, at IAEA, helped Pakistan to lead an agreement between PAEC and IAEA in which IAEA allowed Pakistan to construct and build its nuclear power plant for civil purposes.
In 2000, he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctorate in Engineering by the Punjab University of Engineering and Technology. In the same year, he was elected a Fellow of the International Nuclear Energy Academy. He is the recipient of the three highest official awards in Pakistan namely Sitara-i-Imtiaz, the Hilal-i-Imtiaz and the Nishan-i-Imitiaz, the last of which was awarded to him in 1998. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed is considered one of the prominent nuclear physicist in Pakistan.
Ishfaq Ahmad worked at European Organization for Nuclear Research as a nuclear physicist in the past. In 1994, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad visited CERN as a PAEC chairman. Since then Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad struggled to reach a contract between CERN and PAEC. In 1997, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad headed PAEC to reach a contract between PAEC and CERN after elaborate discussions an in-kind contribution worth one million Swiss francs for the construction of eight magnet supports for the CMS detector. In 1998, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, as PAEC chairman, reached another contract with CERN. The signing of the agreement was followed by the Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad and dr. Christopher Llewellyn Smith's visit to Pakistan in 1998. The agreement provided an entry point for Pakistani scientists and engineers into the CMS collaboration.
In 2000, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad reached another agreement between PAEC and CERN during the official visit of Luciano Maiani to Pakistan. This new agreement covered the construction of the resistive plate chambers required for the CMS muon system. Recently, a protocol has been signed enhancing Pakistan's total contribution to the LHC programme to $10 million. In Press Conference with Luciano Maiani, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad said "I very much hope and wish that these developments may eventually lead to Pakistan becoming an observer state at CERN".
Ishfaq Ahmad has played a significant role in the following fields in Pakistan; scientific manpower training, establishment of Research and development facilities, indigenous production of nuclear materials, peaceful uses of nuclear technology as well as classified applications of nuclear technology. Ishfaq Ahmad has been an administrative presidential figure and encouraged physics and mathematics talent test programmes in Pakistan leading to participation in Physics Olympiad. Since 2001, Ahmad is currently serving as emeritus professor of nuclear and particle physics as well as teaching advanced courses in Nuclear engineering. In 2004, Ahmad joined Physics Department of Quaid-e-Azam University and taught advanced courses on Particle physics. He continued his research at Institute of Physics of Qau and since 2001 Ahmad has been instrumental for the establishment of the National Center for Nuclear Physics (NCP) at Quaid-e-Azam University and has served as chair of its board of governors.
With Dr. Ahmad's initiative and honest efforts, CERN is developing cooperation with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), an environmental and mathematical research institute based on Laxenburg. He is serving as a Council Member of IIASA which specialization in mathematical modeling and simulation. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad has been a great advocate for the strengthening of mathematics in the universities and research organizations.
Dr Ishfaq Ahmad’s effort has led to the creation of the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) in Islamabad where, for the first time, research on Climatic Change is being undertaken in Pakistan. GCISC serves as the Secretariat of the Prime Minister’s Committee on Climate Change. After the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the Government has decided to establish a Center for Earthquake studies in Islamabad, under the technical direction of Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad.