Nuke scientist A.Q. Khan seen in public after four years

May 22nd, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, May 22 (IANS) Disgraced scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who mentored Pakistan’s nuclear programme and was later placed under house arrest for proliferating the country’s secrets, has made his first public appearance in four years in a move aimed at improving the energy situation in the country. On Wednesday, he visited the Academy of Sciences here amid tight security. Quoting sources, the Dawn newspaper said Thursday that the 72-year-old scientist had been permitted out to “rescue the country from the prevailing power crisis by helping the government generate power through its nuclear capability”.

President Pervez Musharraf had last year asked Khan to assist the government in improving its power generation capabilities but he had declined to do so.

“However, the nuclear scientist is said to have agreed to help the (new) coalition government in overcoming the power shortage,” Dawn said.

It also quoted its sources as saying that 95 percent uranium enrichment was required for manufacturing nuclear arms but only five percent enrichment was needed for power generation.

During his two-hour visit to the academy, situated near the Supreme Court on Constitution Avenue, Khan met many of his old friends and expressed his concern over the political situation, and the power and food shortages plaguing Pakistan.

Khan was guarded by security personnel of the Strategic Command Force (SCF) that provides security to nuclear installations and scientists.

Khan was arrested Jan 31, 2004 under the Security Act of Pakistan for allegedly transferring nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Khan later met Musharraf, an event that was telecast live on state-run PTV, and “confessed” to his crime. The president subsequently “pardoned” him.

“People welcomed the government’s decision to relax restrictions on Khan and hoped that he would be allowed to live a normal life,” Dawn said.

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