Dr AQ Khan
Dr AQ KhanWikimedia Commons/Bilalchini

Pakistan is capable of launching a nuclear attack on New Delhi in five minutes, Dr AQ Khan, father of Pakistan's nuclear programme who was disgraced for proliferation, said on Saturday. He also said that Pakistan could have become a nuclear power in 1984, but was stopped by then-President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

Khan was speaking at a gathering on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of Pakistan's first nuclear test that was led by him. He was disgraced in 2004 for selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran. However, in 2008, the scientist had backtracked on his confession blaming then-President Pervez Musharraf of forcing him to make the confession.

Khan also said that after former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam's death in 2015 that Kalam was an average scientist with "no major contribution."

During the event on Saturday, Khan said that Haq opposed Pakistan from becoming a nuclear power as it would stop International aid to Pakistan during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Haq, according to Khan, had also said that there would be military intervention in Pakistan if they went ahead with the nuclear programme.

"We were able and we had a plan to launch nuclear test in 1984. But President General Zia ul Haq had opposed the move," Khan was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

He added that New Delhi can be targeted from Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), which is based in Rawalpindi, in five minutes.

Meanwhile, the Indian strategic community has dismissed Khan's claims.

"It is a very immature and outlandish statement to make. Nuclear missiles are not weapons of war but weapons of deterrence," former Army Chief Gen NC Vij, Director of thinktank Vivekananda International Foundation, told PTI.