Islamabad: Pakistan`s disgraced nuclear scientist AQ Khan has claimed that he had transferred nuclear technology to "two countries" on the orders of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.
"The then Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto summoned me and named the two countries which were to be assisted and issued clear directions in this regard," Khan said in an interview with the Jang media group.
He did not name the two countries.
Khan claimed he had no option but to obey Bhutto, who was killed by a suicide attacker in late 2007.
"I was not independent but was bound to abide by the orders of the Prime Minister, hence I did take this step in compliance with her order," he said.
"The prime minister would have certainly known about the role and cooperation of the two countries, mentioned by her, in our national interest," he claimed.
The transfer of nuclear technology is not easy and at least 800 people supervise the process, said Khan, who was placed under house arrest after he acknowledged in 2004 that he had run a clandestine proliferation ring.
Libya and North Korea are among the countries to which Khan`s ring supplied nuclear technology and know-how.
The current Pakistan People`s Party-led government has eased restrictions on Khan over the past few years.
Khan has also retracted his confession, claiming he was pressured to acknowledge on TV that he had run a proliferation network.
Khan said former premier Nawaz Sharif, who now claims credit for the nuclear tests of 1998, was "absolutely not ready to conduct" the blasts and did not want to do so because of the fear that the US might be annoyed and his government might be threatened.
Through some of his aides, who were also Khan`s friends, Sharif tried to convince the scientist to win international sympathy by staying silent in response to Indian nuclear tests in 1998, Khan claimed.
"But I made it clear that if he did so, I shall put the facts before the media. After this, Nawaz Sharif was compelled to conduct the nuclear tests," he said.
The delay in a decision by Sharif paved the way for international pressure on Pakistan, he claimed.
"Had he immediately decided to respond to India, there would have been no time to pressurise Pakistan, whereas we had made it clear that we can conduct nuclear tests on a notice of half-an-hour," he said.
In response to a question, Khan said he had many expectations from cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan but was disappointed after a few meetings with him as his "political thoughts were still immature and those pinning hopes on him would be let down".
He said Imran Khan was involved in "cosmetics politics".
Referring to US drone attacks in Pakistan`s tribal areas, Khan said they were being carried out with the consent of the political leadership and the military.
He called for shoulder-fired missiles to be provided to tribesmen to shoot down the drones.
"The political leadership is responsible for the drone attacks in the tribal areas while the military too cannot be absolved of the responsibility because it swears to protect the soil and frontiers of the country but it is not abiding by its oath by not stopping the drone attacks on the soil of the country," he said.
"There is no need to order the Pakistan Air Force in this regard. If we provide indigenously developed shoulder-fired small missiles to tribesmen, they will shoot down the drone aircraft. This is wrong to say that drone planes cannot be downed," he said.
Khan claimed only "poor and innocent citizens" were being killed in drone attacks.
He asked that if terrorists were being killed, why their bodies were not being shown to the media.
He said the US would not withdraw from Afghanistan and would maintain its "real strength" there.