I am watching television right now and every news channel is reporting the latest interview by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. This interview came as a surprise to many people here in Pakistan and is sending shock waves around the world (wait and see after 4th July holiday in US).
Dr. Khan, who remains popular across Pakistan has lived in the shadows since 2004, confined to his Islamabad home. People of Pakistan last saw him in a tearful televised confession in which he admitted selling nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. President Musharraf has been telling Pakistanis since 2004 that Dr. Khan did it for money and personal greed. In his interview on May 30 2008, given to British newspaper Guardian, Dr. Khan claimed that he took the blame on himself in the national interest. Dr. Khan has been in the news for last few weeks because of his detention case in the Islamabad High Court but today he returned to the spotlight with a new twist: that North Korea received centrifuges from Pakistan in a 2000 shipment supervised by the security forces during the rule of President Pervez Musharraf.
According to Dr. Khan, the uranium enrichment equipment was sent from Pakistan in a North Korean plane that was loaded under the supervision of Pakistani security officials. He claims that the security forces had “complete knowledge” of the shipment and that it must have been sent with the consent of President Pervez Musharraf. Dr. Khan also disclosed that North Korea gave 200 missiles to Pakistan during Kargil War on his request without any payment. However, the government sources have completely rejected the statement, saying such reports are part of propaganda against Pakistanâ€™s nuclear program.
Dr. Khan has often insisted in recent past too that if anything at all was smuggled to North Korea, Iran or Libya, it was in complete knowledge of Pakistan Army, particularly the ISI Chief Gen. Mahmood Ali Durrani (later the Pak Ambassador to US and currently national security adviser) and other officials in-charge of logistics etc. as it was not possible for him to do something like that alone. The centrifuges are large cylinders which cannot be just transported in a brief case. They need special care for transportation. American officials have even given the flight numbers which allegedly transported the nuclear material.
Renowned nuclear scientist, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan has said that President Pervez Musharraf had already published in his book about the dispatching of centrifuges to North Korea and that his (Dr. Qadeerâ€™s) statement was carried by the foreign news agency in a distorted manner. Talking to Geo News, Dr. A. Q. Khan said when he was asked by a foreign news agency whether the centrifuges were sent to N. Korea he replied that this had already been published in the Presidentâ€™s book. Dr. Khan said any question regarding the dispatch of centrifuges be put to President Pervez Musharraf. â€œNothing could be sent without the supervision of the security forces,â€ he said. He expressed hope that his detention will end soon.
I don’t know how much damage this latest interview will cause to already under-threat nuclear program of Pakistan. But I believe that the way Gen. Musharraf and his regime has treated Dr. Khan since 2004, something like that was bound to happen. No matter whether Dr. Khan is a national hero as majority of Pakistanis still believe he is or a thief as some claim, we must not forget that he is a human being after all.
Allegedly, he was not even allowed to walk out of his home and meet anyone at all since 2004. His elder daughter Dina Khan was not allowed to meet him for one year. Just last week, the Deputy Attorney General claimed in Islamabad High Court and in front of media that Dr. Khan is absolutely free to meet anyone and no restrictions are placed on him. The same evening, many local TV channels showed live how Dr. Sahab was stopped by security officials to go to a dental clinic when he was suffering form severe pain his teeth. The officials ignored him for more than 24 hours until he came out, sat in the middle of road and refused to go back inside. Only then the permission was granted to take him to a dental clinic and the whole drama was shown live on a local channel Express News.
I believe that the authorities should immediately talk to Dr. Khan, lift restrictions on him so that everything could be settled. Sensitive matters like this should never come on media like that and we should close this matter ASAP. I think its a very dangerous trend that we make people believe in something for decades and then suddenly expect them to believe otherwise. Lets hope wisdom prevails before its too late.
Reference: Yahoo News Story on the topic here.