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l February 2004 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 3, No 9 l


Arrests of Pak scientists

Samuel Baid

In 1986, then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi said some Arab countries were helping Pakistan in the development of its clandestine nuclear programme. That caused a storm in a teacup. Some Arab countries protested and asked India to name the countries.

Soon came the book of Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's right-hand man Maulana Kauser Niazi which said the then Prime Minister was promised financial help for Pakistan's nuclear programme by oil-rich Arab countries during 1976-77. In this book, " Aur Line Cut Gai" Kauser Niazi said this help was for the reprocessing plant Pakistan was buying from France for $300 million. The United States opposed this deal. In the meantime, Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan came on the scene and told Bhutto the reprocessing plant was not of much help. Bhutto dropped the idea of the reprocessing without telling France, which was under the US pressure to cancel the deal. Under the cover of US well-publicised opposition to the reprocessing plant, Mr. Bhutto quietly launched the nuclear bomb plan in Kahuta under Dr. Qadir who had brought with him the blueprint of how to construct a nuclear bomb from Holland. When Dr. Qadir decided to stay in Pakistan, Mr. Bhutto is quoted to have shouted, "I will see the Hindu bastards now." Dr. Qadir's utterances in the 1980s clearly indicated that he has the mind of a jehadi-set against non-Muslims.

The countries who promised Pakistan financial help in its nuclear programme were, among others, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. There is a hint that Iran was also among them. This has also been confirmed by Thomas Woodrow, a senior official of the United States Defence Intelligence Agency. In a research paper, Mr. Woodrow stated that Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan had "toured the uranium- enrichment plant and missile production facilities in Kahuta" in Pakistan just after the May 1999 nuclear tests adding that Saudi Minister "may also have been present in Pakistan" during the test launch of its nuclear capable Ghauri missile."

Thus the history of Pak nuclear bomb shows that the jehadi mind was the driving force behind. Surely, at least Iraq, Iran and Libya would not have promised help if Pakistan had told them that the bomb was being made to be used against India. Bhutto must have told them that Pakistan's nuclear power was for Muslim Ummah. On this declaration, they might have promised funds. We do not know if Bhutto also promised transfer of nuclear technology to some of them once Pakistan established its nuclear capability. It could be possible that Dr. Qadir's scientists were now fulfilling the promise the Government of Pakistan might have made in the 1970s. Dramatic evidence from North Korea, Iran and now Libya reveals a clandestine network stretching from North Korea, Malaysia and China to Russia, Germany and Dubai. In the network of illegal nuclear trade, all roads point to Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan's Research Laboratories in Kahuta.

The nexus was first established during the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto as Pakistan Prime Minister when she made a clandestine visit to North Korea and quietly nursed by her successors Nawaz Sharif and now General Musharraf. There were also reports that Pakistan had initially paid for the missiles and spare parts partly in kind and partly' through supply of nuclear technology to help North Korea in the development of its military nuclear capability. In July 2002, American intelligence agencies tracked a Pakistani cargo aircraft (American built C-130) as it landed at a North Korean airfield and took on a secret pay load of ballistic missiles.

To add to Islamabad's woes, the New York Times on January II posted on its web site a sales brochure for nuclear components available, to qualified buyers from Pakistan's top-secret A.Q.Khan Research Laboratories (named for the so-called father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme). The technologies offered were critical for building high quality uranium enrichment facilities, and the glossy brochure.

Government's present stand is that some scientists, in their individual capacity, might be helping some countries for their greed of money. To emphasise this point there is an inquiry into their assets to see if they were living beyond their known means.

But commentators in Pakistan say that these scientists could not have been acting on their own without at least the permission of the ISI and the Army. Kahuta is guarded by the Army which did not allow even then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to know anything what is going on there. Reports in Pakistan say that Gen (retd) Aslam Beg, who was the Army Chief during Ms.Bhutto's Prime Ministership, was also interrogated by the ISI and FBI of America.

The current arrests of Pak scientists have been made on the basis of Iran's admission that Pakistan helped in its nuclear programme and a report of the IAEA which said Pakistan was suspected of helping other countries in nuclear proliferation. This means Pakistan's nuclear facilities cannot be taken as safe in a country where there is proliferation of Jehadis and terrorists. While we tend to blame Pakistan and its nuclear scientists for clandestinely transferring nuclear technology to other countries, we cannot blatantly absolve United States of conniving at Pakistan's nuclear capability. It should be noted that Pakistan's nuclear programme was developed during the time when the Americans were fully supporting this country during the 1980s in their war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

The writer is Director, Institute for Media Studies & Information Technology, YMCA, New Delhi & former Editor, UNI

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