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l February 2004 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 3, No 9 l


A Q Khan: Father of nuclear proliferation

Mohammad Shehzad

Will Dr A Q Khan be tried for allegedly transferring nuclear knowledge to Iran, Libya and North Korea? Should Musharraf and Vajpayee be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize? Has India acknowledged Kashmir as a disputed territory? These were hottest topics of informal discussions at the 55th Republic Day of India.

The popular perception about the future of Dr A Q Khan---the so-called Father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb is, no action could be taken against him because he is a national hero as well as a holy cow. No government-civil or military-can show the audacity of proceeding against him even if he is found guilty. The Musharraf-regime will just invite some dangerous troubles for it by doing so.

A political expert went to the extent of commenting: 'Dr A Q Khan will still go down in the annals of history as a hero even if he is tried. And those who will try him will meet the fate of General Zia-ul-Haq, whose reputation is that of a notorious dictator these days.'
A votary of Bhutto took it as his 'moral' duty to contested this claim. 'There is no greater hero in Pakistan than Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was the real Father of Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb. If he could be assassinated `through judiciary', why can't A Q Khan be spared!'

A highly reliable source told this correspondent that Dr A Q Khan is the key suspect of the probe regarding transfer of nuclear technology. 'Pakistan would not be able to withstand the international pressure of putting A Q Khan under trial if he was found guilty.'

The source also disclosed the Khan's name has been put in the Exit Control List [ECL] and he can't leave the country. No one is allowed to meet him. When this correspondent checked this with the Federal Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat he denied it. But the ground reality is, Khan is under house arrest and is being interrogated. Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan had to conform in the weekly press briefing on Jan 27 that questions are being asked by Khan.
Commenting further on how difficult it would be for the government to proceed against Khan, the source said: 'If Pakistan could change on one telephone call its 22-year old Afghan policy and ditch its 'sons' the Taliban, one could himself assess how difficult it would be for the establishment to rid Dr Khan!'

'People believe that Dr Khan cannot be made a scapegoat because this could provoke the public sentiments. This could be proven wrong with Pakistan's political history. I remember when Z A Bhutto was awarded death sentence, jialas [his political workers] said: 'Agar Bhutto ko phansi dee gayee to hum khoon ki naddiyan baha daingay!' [If Bhutto were hanged, streets of Pakistan will be bathed with blood.] But nothing happened. People of this country have a very short memory!' the source said.

This correspondent had interviewed Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri just before the 12th SAARC Summit and raised the same question i.e. will Pakistan take action against Dr Khan if he was found guilty? Kasuri's response was that whosoever was found guilty will be dealt with according to the law of the land. When this correspondent emphasized: 'Even Mohsin-e-Pakistan?' he said: 'Everyone who was found guilty!'

The gullible masses consider Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan a nuclear scientist-without knowing that he is a metallurgist and as such has little contribution in making a nuclear bomb. Albeit, the nave public considers him the 'Father' of the Pakistani nuclear bomb and Mohsin-e-Pakistan-a highly misleading impression.

Personally, I recognize Dr Khan as a person who is polluting the freshwater of Rawal Lake-an artificial reservoir of water that supplies drinking water to thousands of citizens of Rawalpindi, a city adjoining the capital Islamabad. Dr Khan has constructed a house on the bank of the Lake. The sewerage pipelines of his bungalow discharge waste into the freshwater of the Lake. Moreover, it is alleged that Dr Khan's house at the Lake is the gross violation of the building rules of the Capital Development Authority [CDA]. As a matter of fact, the CDA, years ago, had initiated a demolition operation against the illegal construction in Bani Gala [name of the place where Dr Khan has constructed his bungalow.] The operation was halted-all of a sudden-and it is reportedly said that it happened due to the clout of Dr Khan with the establishment. So, how could a polluter be a Mohsin-e-Pakistan!

Some close friends of Dr Khan present at the Republic day told this correspondent that Dr Khan could not have transferred the nuclear technology, could not have done so at his own. He must have acted on the establishment's orders. They believe that Dr Khan has been made a scapegoat. Such a fear had also been expressed by a right-wing publication Nawai Waqt in one of its editorials. Nawai Waqt is perhaps the greatest fan of the so-called 'Father' of Pakistan's nuclear bomb. Dr Khan's daughter has also raised similar apprehensions while speaking to the media. She was quoted as saying that the establishment was trying to find a scapegoat in his father.

The above argument is supported by an expert-Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of Physics at Quaid-e-Azam University. 'The transfer of such material [nuclear technology] is impossible without explicit permission from the security apparatus that constantly surrounds the nuclear establishment, installations and personnel.'

People were more sympathetic towards Musharraf than Vajpayee on the question of a possible Nobel Peace Prize. The reason was the Gujarat carnage that had diminished Vajpayee's chances of winning the Prize. 'To talk peace for Musharraf is more difficult because he is a military man. Moreover, he has shown more flexibility towards India than Vajpayee. India has literally shown no flexibility towards Pakistan,' commented a diplomat.

According to Abbas Ansari of Hurriyat, the Indian leadership had acknowledged Kashmir as a dispute between Indian and Pakistan in Jan 22 parleys with Hurriyat. Whereas, the Indian foreign minister Yashwant Sinha had said in the US that Kashmir was an integral part of India. In this backdrop, this correspondent tried to sort out some Indians. 'We don't respond to statements,' was the answer.

The 55th Republic Day was observed as a Black Day by the rightwing elements in Pakistan. But to one's utter surprise, it was a very well attended function. Politicians from all major political parties including the alliance of six-pro Taliban religious parties Muttehida Majlis-e-Amal [MMA] attended it. The only complaint the Indians made was none of the services chief of Pakistan attended the Republic Day!

The author is Islamabad based special correspondent of Kashmir Images -- courtesy of which this article appears here.

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