Restrictions on Dr A Q Khan partially lifted

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Islamabad, Feb 7: Pakistan has partially lifted restrictions on its top nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan almost four years after he was put under house arrest in the wake of a scandal involving illegal proliferation of nuclear technology.

Mr Khan, who was put under house-arrest at his sprawling Islamabad residence since late 2003, was found involved in proliferating nuclear technology to Libya, North Korea and Iran. ''There is no restriction on meeting eminent nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan by anyone who wishes to see him,'' local daily The News quoted retired Lt-Gen Khalid Ahmad Kidwai, Chairman Strategic Plans Division (SPD) as saying in Islamabad.

''The only condition is that Dr Khan should be prepared to meet the visitor as every Pakistani wishes to meet him,'' he said.

''Dr A Q Khan is a respectable man and he is being looked after very well. He is enjoying the best of health,'' said Gen Kidwai, who is in-charge of security of the in addition to his other extremely sensitive assignments.

He is heading a strong troop outfit fully equipped and duly trained to deal with any exigency with regard to the strategic assets.

The General made it clear in unambiguous terms that the assets are fully secure and protected since the government has put in place an invincible and sophisticated control and command system on the pattern the most modern nuclear states have.

The SPD chairman declined to offer any comment on Senator SM Zafar and Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed's statements, suggesting that restrictions have been partially lifted and Dr Khan may be set free after this month's polls.

General Kidwai said that no change had been brought about in the status of Dr Khan and he was being facilitated in befitt-ing manner right from the beginning.

The conditions around him demand his security that has many dimensions. Brigadier (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, brushed aside any possibility of removal of Dr Khan's security.

He said he had no knowledge about any change in this regard.

''There is no discussion going on in the government at any level about it. As far as the withdrawals of restrictions are concerned, I have my doubts,'' Brig Cheema said.

There could be some development after the elections since the new government will formulate its own policies and changes always come about on many accounts. Presently, no development is being discussed, Brig Cheema added.


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