Court lifts restrictions on A.Q. Khan

Lahore, May 28 (IANS) The Lahore High Court Friday lifted all restrictions on disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, saying he was free to move anywhere in the country.

‘His movements can not be restricted, as he is a free citizen of the country,’ the court said while disposing off the petition filed by Khan, who mentored Pakistan’s nuclear programme and was then accused of proliferating the country’s secrets abroad, challenging the restrictions on his movements.

The court ordered the government to abide by the deal the government made with Khan on his security and ensure that he was not harmed.

Khan had contended he was put under house arrest in the name of security, while the government argued otherwise, Online news agency reported.

Talking to reporters at his residence in Islamabad, a beaming Khan said it was to be seen how much the order was implemented.

He said that if the order was not implemented he would file a contempt of court plea.

He said he was deeply hurt that his services have never been valued, adding: ‘Only fake degree holders are given privileges in this country. They are the ones who are re-elected and given top posts.’

On Jan 25, the court had banned Khan’s free movement after the government contended that he had violated an agreement governing his release from house arrest last year by giving an interview to a foreign media outlet that put national integrity in jeopardy.

In a petition filed in the court Jan 19, 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.

In February 2009, 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 said that Pakistan’s nuclear assets and weapons were ‘quite safe’ and they could not be taken out of the country.

Khan said he was ‘forced’ by ‘some elements’ in the then Pervez 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 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.