A.Q.Khan says he confessed in 2004 to save Pakistan

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Islamabad, Apr.8 : Dr. A.Q. Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear programme, has said that he confessed to passing atomic secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya four years ago to "save his country".

Khan,who has been under effective house arrest since confessing on television in 2004 to running a proliferation network, added that the country's new government had not yet contacted him about his possible release.

It may be recalled that President Pervez Musharraf pardoned him after his confession, but kept him under detention. Musharraf denied any state involvement in Khan's activities and rejected international requests to quiz the scientist.

"I saved the country for the first time when I made Pakistan a nuclear nation and saved it again when I confessed and took the whole blame on myself," Dr Qadeer told a foreign news agency during a telephone interview from his Islamabad villa on Sunday.

He is hailed for transforming Pakistan into the world's first Islamic nuclear power. Pakistan carried out nuclear tests in 1998 in response to similar detonations by India.

"Even Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (former prime minister) and Mushahid Hussain (a Senator from the party that backs Musharraf) said I saved Pakistan by accepting the whole blame myself," he added.

The new government has indicated that they might consider freeing Khan as part of the roll back of some of Musharraf's policies over the last nine years and his powers.

"No government official has so far contacted me about my release nor I would contact any of them to do so.You had better ask this question of the government," The Nation quoted Khan, as saying.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and was briefly hospitalised last month with complications.

"I have faith in Allah and believe that wisdom is hidden in everything. I believe in positive thinking and get comfort by reading the Holy Quran during my detention," he said.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi hinted on Monday that the government will lift restrictions on Khan.

"He is a national hero and will not be handed over to IAEA in any situation," Qureshi said.

ANI

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