Skip to comments.Pakistan nuclear leak zeroes in on Dr Khan
Posted on 01/20/2004 9:37:14 AM PST by knighthawk
WASHINGTON: Under tremendous pressure from the United States, Islamabads ruling dispensation appears to be zeroing in on Pakistans national hero, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, as the source of nuclear proliferation.
Several people, perhaps up to 25, included some of Khans closest aides, have been detained in recent days. Some of them have been dragged out of their homes kicking and screaming, according to family members who have spoken to the Pakistani media.
Khan himself has been treated more circumspectly, but he has also been questioned exhaustively and further steps against him seem imminent. The military government already seems to be preparing the ground for action.
''So far, our investigations indicate that only one man is behind this alleged transfer,'' an unnamed senior Pakistani official was quoted on Monday as telling the American wire service UPI. ''It is wrong to blame an entire nation for the mistakes of an individual.''
UPI reported that without naming Khan, the official said: ''We gave him the status of a national hero when he did something for the country but now if he makes a mistake, he will have to pay for his mistake as well.''
Khans fall from grace under the military dispensation is traced by some experts to relentless American pressure that first resulted in Gen. Musharrafs decision to forcibly retire him on his 65th birthday in April 2001, against his own wishes. Musharraf also retired Khan's main rival, Samar Mubarakmand, at the same time.
According to British writer Simon Henderson, who has extensively chronicled Pakistans nuclear shenanigans, American gripe against Khan goes back to the 1980s, when the nuclear scientist began putting his country on the nuclear map.
In 1981, then military dictator General Zia ul-Haq, named Pakistans principle nuclear facility after Khan. ''This gesture was intended to annoy the United States, and it did. What is going on now appears, in part, to be Washington's revenge. Using the Iran-centrifuge scandal, Washington can pressure Musharraf to shut down perhaps half of his nuclear-weapons projects,'' Henderson has written in a recent issue of National Review Online.
While some accounts suggest that the Musharraf-led military in Pakistan is blaming previous civilian governments for the nuclear leaks while now kow-towing Washington, there are also attempts in Islamabad to show that the Pakistani military was fully cognizant, if not responsible, for the nuclear proliferation.
According to one account, Ishaq Dar, a former federal minister and Nawaz Sharief supporter recently told journalists that during Sharifs first tenure as Prime Minister, then-Chief of Army Staff Mirza Aslam Beg had come to Sharif and asked that Pakistan transfer nuclear technology to a friendly country for $12 billion.
Dar said General Beg was accompanied by an official of the friendly country. Dars statement implied that such a transfer, if indeed it took place, was not possible without some personnel in the army knowing about it.
Henderson too casts doubts on Musharraf protesting ignorance or innocence on the proliferation issue.
''To believe the storyline dictated so far by the Musharraf regime, you have to believe that a group of scientists, motivated by national glory (the quest for a bomb), was distracted by the opportunity to earn a quick buck (selling secrets to Iran, a potential enemy). The whole escapade apparently completely escaped the notice of a wide array of governments, some military, some democratic,'' Henderson writes with obvious disbelief.
Reports in the Pakistani media meanwhile portray traumatized family members of scientists and engineers hauled away from questioning at short notice with no further information of their whereabouts.
Family members of two Khan Research Lab (KRL) personnel sneaked into a foreign office briefing on Monday to speak to reporters about the undignified manner in which the head of the family were taken away for questioning.
Those detained to date include Major Islam ul-Haq, Khan's personal staff officer, and Nazeer Ahmed, a director at KRL who was Khan's principal and closest aide in the KRL headquarters for many years.
According to Henderson, who says he has been speaking to family members of some detained scientists, two other men arrested last week, Abdul Majid and Mansoor Alam (also directors at KRL), had both been directly involved in the first 1998 nuclear test. Two other scientists, Saeed Ahmed, who had been head of the centrifuge-design office, Yasin Chohan, who ran a production line, have been released.
Could we just pay Shatner to follow him around all day?
I am also going to have to modify my use of casual phrases now, no more "Hey, stop at the next anything- I have to take a nuclear leak".
I was wondering when he'd show up.
"We offered the world ORDER!"
"He tasks me, and I shall have him."
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