Pakistani court frees nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan (Second lead)

February 6th, 2009 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz SharifIslamabad, Feb 6 (IANS) Mentor of the Pakistani nuclear programme, A.Q. Khan who was accused of illegally proliferating the country’s secrets, Friday walked free after four years with the Islamabad High Court lifting his house arrest. “These things happen. We should forget and look forward,” Khan told reporters after the verdict.

Khan said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also been “inside” (jail).

“The government had made arrangements and nobody could hurt me. Now also, the government will take care,” Khan said.

The allegations against Khan had not been “substantiated”, Geo TV reported.

Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Aslam, while announcing a verdict on several petitions filed against Khan’s house arrest, declared him a free citizen and said he was free to move across the country.

“I am satisfied with the decision of the court, setting me free is a matter between me and the government, this has no connection with the US,” The News quoted Khan as saying.

He said that he didn’t want to delve in the past incidents, he only wanted the development of the country.

He said: “I pray that the God save the country.”

The nuclear scientist said that the god has already punished former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, as he can’t freely come out on the roads today and that he would not take action against anybody for keeping him in detention.

He said that he would be focusing on education and setting up of welfare organizations would be his top priority.

Due to security reasons, Khan has to inform the government about his movements in advance. The court has directed the government to immediately provide security to Khan, Geo TV report said.

“I greet the whole nation (with the news) that the court has declared Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan as a free citizen of Pakistan,” TV channel Dawn News quoted Khan’s lawyer Ali Zafar as saying.

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 four years ago.

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 had eased restrictions on Khan placed in 2004.

Khan said he was “forced” by “some elements” in the Musharraf-led government to confess in January 2004 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,” he said.

Soon after his January 2004 confession, when he “apologised” for smuggling nuclear bomb formula to other countries, Khan was pardoned by then president Pervez Musharraf but placed under house arrest.

Khan was born in India and went over to Pakistan in 1952, five years after the birth of the Islamic country.

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