Pakistan mulls security for A.Q. Khan

January 21st, 2010 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Jan 21 (IANS) Two days after seeking a ban on the free movement of Abdul Qadeer Khan, who mentored Pakistan’s nuclear programme and was accused of proliferating nuclear secrets abroad, a high level meeting was held here Thursday to discuss the security that should be provided to him.
The meeting, chaired by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, was held “in view of serious threats to the physical security of Dr. A.Q. Khan and other scientists and the recent incidents of abduction and killing of scientists in neighboring countries”, Online news agency reported.

“Dr. A.Q. Khan is a former custodian of sensitive information. The security of our

nuclear capability is very important and paramount for the country,” the agency said.

“Therefore, various measures in this respect were discussed to ensure fool proof

security for Dr. A.Q. Khan and other scientists.”

Held on the directive of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the meeting was attended, among others, by Law Minister Farooq H. Naek, Interior Secretary Mohammad Ahsan Raja, and the Director General of the Strategic Plans Division Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Khaled Ahmed Kidwai.

In a petition filed in the Lahore High Court Tuesday, the government said Khan’s free movement should be banned as he was a threat to national security, having shared sensitive information with the international media.

The petition said Khan should be kept under constant surveillance by the authorities and a security escort should be assigned to him.

The court issued notice to Khan to reply to the petition Jan 25.

In February, the Islamabad High Court had lifted Khan’s house arrest that was imposed in 2004 after he “confessed” on national television to the proliferation charges.

“These things happen. We should forget and look forward,” Khan had said after the verdict, noting that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also been “inside” (jail).

In an interview to IANS in May 2008, Khan claimed that he never sold nuclear technology illegally and that he should have never made a confession to that effect.

Describing himself as “an innocent man”, Khan had said that Pakistan’s nuclear assets and weapons were “quite safe” and they could not be taken out of the country.

The civilian government that came to power in March 2008, had eased the restrictions placed on Khan.

Khan said he was “forced” by “some elements” in the Musharraf-led government to confess to presiding over an illegal network supplying nuclear technology to countries such as North Korea and Libya.

He said he was told this would be in national interest. “I think the confession was my mistake.”

Soon after his January confession, Khan was pardoned by Musharraf but placed under house arrest.

Khan was born in India and went over to Pakistan in 1952, five years after the subcontinent was partitioned.

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