Washington/Islamabad, Feb.9 (ANI): There has been considerable adverse reaction in the West to the Islamabad High Court's decision to free tainted Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan from five years of house arrest for selling nuclear secrets.
However, according to Pakistani officials, an agreement has been reached between Khan's lawyers and the government to limit his movements and monitor his telephone calls, visitors and activities.
The ministry has also agreed to prohibit his travel abroad, but will provide him all security.American officials are said to be quite skeptical about the new arrangement, which they said had been reported to them by the Pakistani government."We're very concerned. Pakistan has "given us some initial commitments but we're going to be following [the situation] very closely. The important thing is that they know we are still very serious about this individual," said one official.Asked yesterday about Khan, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the government had decided not to appeal the court ruling on Khan's release, but had "taken all measures" to ensure that he would be unable to resume the spread of nuclear secrets or technology.
There is a view in some quarters in Islamabad and Washington that the order issued by the judge is "strange", as also its "timing."
His release comes just before Richard Holbrooke's visit to Pakistan.
Only last month, the United States had imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and three companies for their involvement with Khan's network. Washington is also amazed and dismayed over Khan's release, saying it is a "serious proliferation risk".
Well known security expert, Lt. Gen. (retired) Talat Masood, however, terms the negotiated settlement as a vindication of a "national hero. This view is likely to ruffle feathers in the West.
There is another view that the Pakistan Army may be complicit in facilitating Khan's release, even as it seeks to restore its deteriorating image in the North West Frontier Province.
Khan, 72, is revered in Pakistan as the father of the country's nuclear weapons program, and though he has never been charged, he has admitted selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
His secret network collapsed in 2003, after more than a decade of investigation by the CIA and other agencies.
Then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, confronted with evidence of his guilt, persuaded Khan to make a public confession but then publicly pardoned the scientist and refused to allow U.S or international officials to question him.
The deal reached between his lawyers and the government suggests that "his silence" is part of the pact, and that any political gain from his release, is likely to be short lived. (ANI)