Pakistani court orders A.Q. Khan’s medical examination


Lahore : The Lahore High Court Tuesday ordered the government to allow disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, whose movements have been restricted, to meet his relatives and friends and to get him medically examined.

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The order came after Khan’s counsel Ali Zafar contended that the scientist, who mentored the country’s nuclear programme and was then accused of proliferating its nuclear secrets, was not being allowed to meet his relatives and friends and was also not allowed to get medically examined at home.

On January 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.

The government also said that no information would be provided to the media about the current hearing, keeping in view national security.

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.

The civilian government that came to power in March 2008 had eased the restrictions placed on Khan.

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 January 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.