Jeffrey LewisHome Sweet Home with AQ Khan 1/2

Where does AQ Khan live?

Well, he has at least two houses in Islamabad – a lake-side villa in Bani Gala that was the subject of controversy as detailed by William Langeweische in The Atlantic and home in the E-7 neighborhood of Islamabad where he spent much of his house arrest. He is rumored to have been connected to additional homes, including properties in the E-7. As a knowledgeable commentator once asked, “Can anyone give a credible and, preferably, checkable list of the houses he owns?”

Well, that’s a tall order.  But the two us — Jeffrey Lewis and Jende Huang — have at least located his two main residences.  Let’s talk today about the home in E-7, where he served his house arrest.  We’ll talk about the lake-side villa tomorrow.

Like many business travelers, AQ Khan must have enjoyed returning home — in this case, to the house he built in Islamabad the late 1970s. It was from this “relatively modest, standard Islamabad house with few obvious signs of extravagance,” Khan oversaw his far-reaching proliferation network.

Islamabad is a planned city built starting in the 1960s, and is divided into five zones. A.Q. Khan’s neighborhood, E-7, sits at the foot of the Margalla Hills, at the northern edge of the largely residential Zone 1. The neighborhoods in Zone 1 are typically 2km x 2km squares, but E-7—an upscale enclave where many diplomats live—is shaped like a triangle, a sliver compared to adjacent neighborhoods.

Although one might expect Khan’s house to be difficult to locate, he has actually been quite open about his address. It’s listed on his CV, among  other places. Reporters have given the address of the home as Hillside Road, which forms the northern border of E-7. Google maps isn’t much help, nor have our friends in Mountain View sent a Street View car to Islamabad. Fortunately, Pakistani real estate companies, wanting to provide their potential clients with information about their future homes, has published the master plan for E-7.

There it is. Lot 207 lies near a creek on the northwestern part of E-7. Matching that location with satellite imagery, gives us this house, with the U-shaped driveway facing Hill Side Road:  33°43’40.01″N,  73° 2’38.76″E

That’s Khan’s house, right in the middle.  The image is from 2009, although it hasn’t changed much over the years.

This location agrees exactly with the location given by a knowledgeable commentator, SH, at Arms Control Wonk in 2008.  SH added that Khan’s “house (with a swimming pool) backs onto another street. The house to the immediate east is his former (rented) guest house – there is gate allowing direct access. This building is where his security guards are now based. Down the alley/road at the rear, accessible via another gate from his garden, were two other rented houses he was formerly associated with – one is where one of his daughters used to live (but doesn’t any longer). Another was his former guest house, before he started renting the house next door to where he lives.”

Lots 217 and 218 are good candidates for the two rented houses, although we cannot confirm this. Maybe SH can. House 218 is now a restaurant.  House 217 is a woman’s clothing boutique.  If Lewis makes it to Islamabad, he knows where he is going for dinner and shopping for the Mrs.

The satellite images match perfectly pictures of Khan at home, celebrating the end of his house arrest.  As you can see from these two pictures of a jubilant AQ Khan being released from house arrest, he has a semi-circular red brick driveway, one that is partially covered with a portico.

We expected to see outward signs of security.  According to Rob Crilly in The Telegraph in 2013, Khan’s house since 2011 has been  “…ringed by uniformed police officers with AK-47s. Roadblocks control traffic, floodlights illuminate an area of scrub that has been cleared of trees and machine gun positions have been dug in all around.” Looking at satellite imagery  — images from May 2011 and June 2012, four images from September 2012, another image from December 2012 and three more images from January 2013 — we see, well, nothing. No roadblocks, no police vehicles, no recently cleared scrub and no machine gun positions. We contacted Rob Crilly on Twitter a couple of times, but he hasn’t responded yet. [Another colleague noted that the roadblock is located at Hillside and 10th. That spot is usually in the shadow of a tree, but on some days it looks like there may be some sort of obstruction there.]

Considering the scope of his illicit activities – and the rather ugly end some of his colleagues met – we would have expected  Khan to keep a lower profile.  Guess not!

Tomorrow, the lake-side villa that caused so much commotion.

Jeffrey Lewis is the founding publisher of Arms Control Follow him on Twitter: @armscontrolwonk

Jende Huang is a candidate for a Masters in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at the Monterey Institute. Follow him on Twitter: @jendehuang


  1. Jeffrey (History)

    Simon Henderson sends along a note for posting:


    How nice of you to call me a “knowledgeable commentator.” Others have been less kind. [Simon is “SH.”]

    On his security, my understanding is that his home is between two roadblocks – in all about four houses are affected. You probably saw that his security measures have recently been increased:

    I am looking forward to your piece tomorrow on his lake-side villa. Did I ever ID it for you? In the past, others have got it wrong…

    Simon Henderson

  2. Jende (History)

    Ah yes, after seeing those roadblocks on Hill Side and 10th, I can also see that there are roadblocks at the intersection of Hill Side, Aurangzeb and an unnamed road that appears to be part of the Faisal Mosque, or 33°43’39.52″ 73° 2’26.23″. Looking at these roadblocks on Google Earth, they appeared sometime between 5/16/2009 and 1/24/2010, which is also the same time that the barriers appeared at Hill Side and 10th.