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Pak won't let US question freed scientist Farooq

Written by: Staff

Islamabad, May 2: US investigators probing nuclear proliferation would not be allowed to meet a Pakistan scientist recently released from detention, oficials said today.

Authorities last month released Mohammad Farooq, a former director of procurement at a uranium enrichment laboratory set up by disgraced scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Khan -- revered as father of Pakistan's atom bomb -- has been under house arrest since a probe was launched against him in late 2003 after his televised confession that he sold nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

A dozen others were held for questioning, but all except Farooq, a close aide of Khan, had been released earlier.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Farooq's release showed the case was closed as far as Pakistan was concerned.

''I would presume that with Dr. Farooq's release, we are able to close that chapter,'' she told weekly news briefing.

She said Pakistan would cooperate with any other investigation about the network, but again ruled out allowing U.S. investigators to question its scientists.

''We have repeatedly said that whatever information is required, questions can be forwarded to the government of Pakistan. We would get the answer, we would do investigation and we would transmit this information,'' she said.

''(But) there is no question of direct access. We have repeatedly said.'' President Pervez Musharraf has described Khan's confession as one of the embarassing events of his presidency. The government sacked Khan as special adviser after his confession but Musharraf pardoned him for his role in making Pakistan a nuclear state.

U.S. officials have cited the Khan affair as one of the reasons why Pakistan will not be getting the same treatment as India when it comes to nuclear technology.

The United States, to Pakistan's chagrin, has offered to provide India with know how, including reactors, for its civil nuclear programme.


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