Lahore: Pakistani authorities will interrogate disgraced nuclear scientist AQ Khan "at an appropriate time" for his claim that he tried to help Iran and Iraq develop nuclear weapons, a top government lawyer has said.
"The Lahore High Court did not restrain the government from probing this sensitive matter. Rather, it had left it to the government to launch an investigation when it deems fit," said lawyer Ahmer Bilal Sufi.
Sufi had represented the government when the High Court took up Khan`s petition over the removal of security restrictions.
"The federal government will interrogate Khan at an appropriate time for the claim he made during an interview with The Washington Post that he tried to help Iran and Iraq develop nuclear weapons and that those deals were in the knowledge of the Pakistani government," he said.
"The government cannot let it go unnoticed as it is a very sensitive matter and may have repercussions for Pakistan`s nuclear programme," he said.
Sufi pointed out that Khan had not yet served a legal notice on the journalist or The Washington Post for attributing such sensitive information to him.
"This shows that there is something fishy. The whole matter demands an immediate investigation," he said.
The Lahore High Court had on March 29 ordered the government to ease restrictions on Khan`s movements and directed it to provide him foolproof security.
However, the court barred Khan from giving interviews to the local and foreign media about the nuclear programme of Pakistan or any other country.
Pakistan government had been facing immense pressure from the US to restrict Khan`s movements and to restrain him from interacting with the media.
The government is of the view that the contents of articles published in The Washington Post had national security implications for Pakistan, as they contained certain allegations related to its nuclear programme and nuclear cooperation. Furthermore, the articles were an attempt to affect Pakistan`s friendly ties with Iran and Iraq.
Khan was put under house arrest in early 2004 after he confessed to running a clandestine proliferation ring.
He was freed four years later on the orders of a court and subsequently recanted his confession, saying it was made under pressure.