Investigations against Dr AQ Khan have proved that the renowned nuclear scientist had no links with al-Qaeda and that he helped Iran and Libya to divert the US focus from the Pakistani nuclear programme. Also, he was tricked into making the infamous confession on the national TV by President Musharraf and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
Highly-placed government sources have claimed that it was not established during the four-year-long investigations that Dr Khan was providing nuclear technology to Iran and Libya just for money. The probe found that the main reason behind nuclear proliferation was because Dr Khan disliked the US policies.
According to a statement given by Dr Khan to investigators, he thought that if Iran or Libya became nuclear powers, pressure of the West from Pakistan will be diverted. Dr Khan was also of the view that the US might try to destroy Iran or Libya, so he tried to help these countries to develop a nuclear umbrella.
Investigators never found big amounts of money in his bank accounts. There was a transfer of four million rupees in the account of one woman named Sabeeha but Dr Khan declared her a “blackmailer”.
Initially, the US authorities had claimed that Dr Khan was in contact with al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Muhammad but it could not be proved. Pakistani investigators never found any evidence of his links with al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Before Dr Khan appeared on the Pakistan Television in February 2004 and accepted that he was involved in nuclear proliferation, his old friend Senator SM Zafar warned him in early 2004 that he should not confess anything in the name of national interest because the establishment will make him a scapegoat. But the poor doctor never listened to his old friend.
Dr Khan claimed that it was not only Shujaat but also President Pervez Musharraf, who assured him on February 4, 2004 that nothing bad will happen to him after the confessional statement and that he would be free to move anywhere in Pakistan but unfortunately he was betrayed.
He said he was not demoralised during the detention and faced investigation with courage and spent his time with his family, books and his Allah.
He said he was retired from the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) in March 2001 because he had reached the age of 65, but he added: “I was retired may be because I was not a sycophant.”
He said he was dragged into the nuclear proliferation controversy through a sting operation against Iran and Libya. Responding to another question, he said, “I was not asked any questions about my alleged links with al-Qaeda because investigators were aware that it was just propaganda.”
He said “I am not in the custody of the civilian government but in the custody of the Army.”
He revealed that late Benazir Bhutto never contacted him during the detention but added: “Yes, Nawaz Sharif and Qazi Hussain Ahmed sent me some messages of support.”
By Hamid Mir
Published in the News, May 31, 2008