Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood

(Nuclear Engineer, Islamic Scholar & Writer) 

Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood is an internationally recognized nuclear scientist. He first shot to prominence in 1972 when he invented SBM Probe (SBM stands for Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood) a machine being used since then for detecting and stopping heavy water leaks in nuclear power plants around the world. There after he was appointed as the founder director of Pakistan's Nuclear Enrichment Project, a facility for making Pakistan an atomic power. He stayed with Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission till 1999 (1963-1999) when he sought early retirement from the post of Director General Nuclear Power due to differences with the then government on signing CTBT. After retirement SBM launched an international NGO for the technological, scientific, economic and Industrial development of the muslim world by the name of "Ummah Tameer-e-Nau" (UTN).

In the following paragraphs we have given a brief on the life and work of Mr. Mahmood:

Achievements

  • Initiated and completed some of the major Atomic Projects of Pakistan.
  • Founder Director (1974) of the Kahuta Nuclear Enrichment Program for making Atom Bomb.
  • Designer and builder of Khushab Nuclear Power Plant – the only indigenous plant of its kind in the Muslim world.
  • Author of many books and papers on Nuclear Science/ Technology.
  • Inventor of many inventions and processes in Nuclear Technology.
  • Has extensively worked on transfer and Indigenous development of peaceful applications of nuclear technology in medicine, agriculture and industry.
  • A life long student and researcher of Qur’an and Science.
  • President of Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, an international NGO, for industrial and economic development of the Muslim Ummah.
  • Chairman Holy Qur’an Research Foundation.
  • Chairman Dar-ul-Hikmat International.
  • Has written over 35 books on Islam & Science including international best sellers like “Doomsday And Life After Death”, "Cosmology & Human Destiny" and “Kitab-e-Zindagi, a Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an.

Life History:

Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood, born in 1940 at Amratsar, United India, son of a devout freedom fighter, and social worker Ch. Muhammad Sharif Khan (Late), started his childhood in a small village near Lahore after his family emigrated from Amratsar, India in 1947 when Pakistan gained independence from the British rule.

He was an exceptionally bright child who pursued education in an environment of total ignorance and deprivation. Though his father was so poor that he could not buy him a pair of shoes he took great interest on the education of his eldest son. In the primary classes he had to walk bare foot for 9 miles daily to go to the nearest school. After his matriculation in which he stood first in his college and 3rd in the Punjab board, with great hardship his father sent him to the Government College (GC) Lahore, a top class educational institution of the country of its time. He proved his mantle by pursuing his studies through government scholarships and part time jobs. He stood first in the whole of Punjab in FSc. and also secured first class first in B.Sc. Engineering from University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore.

After graduating in electrical engineering discipline he joined Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in early 1960. He did his masters in Control Systems and then in Nuclear Engineering from Manchester, UK. He volunteered to abandon his higher studies in 1965 to join the Armed Forces of Pakistan during the 1965 Pakistan – India war as a volunteer. In 1967 he went back to Britain to complete masters in Nuclear Control Systems.

Despite very lucrative offers from his British employers who instantly recognized the potential of this young engineer, Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood returned to Pakistan in late 60s  and devoted himself to his work at Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. In early 1970s he invented a very sophisticated device called SBM Probe (named after his initials) to detect heavy water leaks in nuclear plants, a problems that was affecting nuclear plants all over the world.

In 1974 when India exploded the first nuclear device Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood shut himself in his room and cried for two days. He came out with the vow that he would try his best to make Pakistan an Atomic Power. He reiterated this vow when Mr. Z.A. Bhutto, the Prime Minister of Pakistan called a conference of nuclear scientists in Multan in 1974. Although at a junior rank but high in motivation he took the stage and asked the Prime Minister that the government should give a very clear commitment to the scientists that Pakistan will make a Nuclear Bomb and not let the country down. Following that in 1974, he was assigned as the founder Project Director to setup the famous Kahuta Project under the guidance of PAEC Chairman Mr. Munir Ahmed Khan (late). In 1976 Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan who was working as his deputy with malicious objectives started defaming him by labeling him as a ‘Qadiani’, which he was not. Dr. A Q Khan without any basis also brought up charges of embezzlement against him. All of this was untrue and after almost one year of investigations by the intelligence agencies he was honorably cleared of all the charges. It was proved that he has not embezzled any amount and he is not a ‘Qadiani’ but infact a very devout Sunni Muslim and a servant of the Last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Dr. A Q Khan managed to built a lot of good will among the masses by showering money on the media and labeled himself as the father of Pakistan's Atomic Bomb. However in the last few years now people have come to know that Mr. Khan was not the real father of the bomb but rather he built this reputation through ill gotten wealth by selling Pakistan's nuclear secrets. He also delayed the project that was supposed to be completed by 1982 by almost 10 years and in the mean time amassing millions of dollars.    

Mr. Mahmood opted out of the Kahuta program and reverted to PAEC in 1978 to set up a plant for uranium refining, and then designing and setting up a Nuclear Fuel Factory. Latter in 1980s and 90s he designed and installed the Muslim world’s only indigenously built Nuclear Reactor at Khushab.

Watching the inclination of the then government in 1998 to sign CTBT, although at that moment he was the Director General Nuclear Power of PAEC but SBM without considering the adverse consequences opposed it very blatantly and openly. When his views being found anti government were turned down he resigned in protest and established an international islamic NGO “Ummah Tameer-e-Nau” (UTN) with the motto of “Help to Build – Build to Help”. In a period of just over 2 years UTN made investments to the tune of millions of dollars in Afghanistan. To alleviate the sufferings of poor Afghans, he undertook industrialization of the war-ravaged country by gathering funds from Industrialists and investors on profit and loss sharing. He himself put all the money he got on his retirement at his commutation in this cause. The NGO was able to successfully install and operate a flourmill at Kandhar, mobile hospital units, de-mining of 5,000 hectares of land and was working on establishing a Poly Technical College, an arid land rehabilitation project, an Ummah Bank and a Hydro-Power Project when war was imposed on Afghans by the US in 2001. He diverted all his energies to provide humanitarian aid like food and medicines to the suffering Afghans.

Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood was greatly disturbed on the happenings in Afghanistan and sensed a danger for his beloved country. He repeatedly appealed to everyone to work even harder and deplored any disunity or instability inside the country at this crucial juncture. He profusely believed in strengthening country and government for a united stand. He feared infighting and begged all religious elements under his influence and contact to thwart any such attempts.

In late 2001 the US government suspected him of helping the Taliban in making a nuclear bomb. He was arrested by the Pakistan Intelligence Agencies on October 23rd 2001 and kept in custody for 59 days in a safe house in Islamabad where the United States CIA officers repeatedly interrogated him. He however told them in very clear terms that he had nothing to do with the Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization and he was only working on humanitarian issues like food, health and education. However even though he was considered innocent and released on 22nd December 2001 but was declared a terrorist by the US President in his televised address on 23rd December 2001. Despite clear indications from CIA that he is not involved with any terrorist outfit.

Suspecting a person of such integrity, patriotism and with exceptional qualities of making and loving peace in this world was a great tragedy. He suffered a heart attack while in custody and thereafter has not been able to regain his complete health due to the mental and physical torture he had to endure at the hands of the intelligence personnel.

Since 2002 he resides at his home in Islamabad with his wife, son and grand children. Though he is leading a quite life and is in not a very good status of health but he is the type of man who cannot sit idle. Now as his movements are relatively restricted by the US governments so called war on terror but still he is actively doing welfare work besides doing research on Islam, Quran and Science. He is the chairman of Dar-ul-Hikmat International, an NGO which he founded in 1987. Dar-ul-Hikmat is devoted to develop and research the relationship of Qur'an with the modern day scientific discoveries. He is involved in other humanitarian and relief projects especially in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Pakistan in October 2005. He established an informal group of individuals in 2006 for the betterment of jail inmates in Pakistan. He established libraries in various jails of Pakistan and is involved in helping the innocent get released from jails after payment of their dues. Since 2009 he has also been researching on herbal and natural treatments besides Islamic medicine. On the subject he has written a book in Urdu which is being translated to english. His main focus is on the natural way of treatment and healthy life style.

Till 2014 he has written and published over 35 technical and religious books such as “Doomsday and Life After Death” (a scientific interpretation of Quran’s versus) “Muhammad: The First & the Last” “Cosmology and Human Destiny” and many others. He is a widely respected man in academic and religious circles in Pakistan and abroad. He is also writing a Tafseer of Qur'an of which the first volume has been published in 2005.

He was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz, a high civil award, by the government of Pakistan in recognition of his contribution to nuclear science and technology in Pakistan. US Institute of Historical biographies mentions him in there ‘who is who’ list and presented him a gold medal in 1998. He has also been awarded Gold Medal by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Mahmood can be contacted on his e-mail sbmahmood1213@yahoo.com