Pak court reserves judgement on petition on AQ Khan
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 20:30
  
Lahore: A Pakistani court on Wednesday reserved its judgement on a government petition seeking permission to question disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan over media reports about his alleged role in transferring sensitive atomic technology to Iran and Iraq.

A bench of the Lahore High Court, which is hearing the matter, also deferred for the third time its judgment on a government petition asking the court to impose restrictions on the free movement of Khan and his interaction with the media.

The bench said it would rule on the matter on March 29.

The High Court said it would give its verdict on the same day on the government's fresh application to question Khan about claims he made regarding Pakistan arranging the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran and Iraq.

The claims were made in an account allegedly written by Khan that was the basis of two reports published recently in The Washington Post.

The articles in The Washington Post said Khan had tried to help Iran and Iraq develop nuclear weapons. Those deals allegedly occurred with the knowledge of the Pakistan government, the reports said.

The federal government said in its fresh application that even while the earlier case was pending in court and despite denials by Khan, The Washington Post published reports on March 10 and 14 in which the authors named the scientist as the basic source of information.

The authors also expressly mentioned that journalist Simon Henderson had been engaged in unauthorised communication with Khan.

The government said the contents of the two articles had national security implications for Pakistan as they contained allegations related to the nuclear programme and nuclear cooperation.

Further, the articles were an attempt to affect friendly ties with Iran and Iraq, the government's lawyer told the court.

"There is a conspiracy against Pakistan's strategic interests and it is necessary to unearth it and take urgent measures in this regard," the lawyer told the bench.

The reports in The Washington Post said Iran tried to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan in the late 1980s.

The reports further said Pakistan instead gave Iran bomb-related drawings and other nuclear technology. Khan was put under house arrest after he confessed on state-run television in early 2004 to operating a proliferation network that spread nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

He has since retracted that statement and Pakistan has refused to allow international investigators to question Khan.

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 20:30


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