ISLAMABAD, Feb 8: The government is considering filing an appeal against Islamabad High Court’s verdict declaring nuclear scientist Dr A. Q. Khan a ‘free citizen’.
Government sources told Dawn on Sunday that the court decision might be challenged because of concerns expressed by the United States and the United Kingdom over the ‘release’ of Dr Khan.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a TV channel before leaving for Munich to attend an international security conference that the government reserved the right to file an appeal against the court’s decision.
Mr Qureshi said that Dr A. Q. Khan had already been relieved of his duties and he had nothing to do with the country’s nuclear-related policies. “Dr Khan has already been detained and now he is not in a position to influence or exert any pressure,” he said.
The network of Dr Khan did not exist any more and he had no access to country’s sensitive information or policy-making institutions, he added.
The minister said Dr Khan was not in a position to formulate or influence a policy. Pakistan was a responsible state and the world was satisfied with measures taken by it, he said.
He said that the countries engaged in proliferation matters knew very well that Pakistan had a satisfactory nuclear command and control structure and there was no possibility of any takeover by extremists or non-state actors.
Dr A. Q. Khan was put under detention in 2004 following revelation about his alleged role in an international proliferation network and his own confession on the state-run television, in which he sought people’s forgiveness.
However, the nuclear scientist later took the position that he had been forced by Gen Pervez Musharraf to make such a confession, but the government continued to maintain that he had spearheaded the gang that had supplied centrifuges, other equipment and information to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Despite these charges made against Dr Khan, a large number of Pakistanis still regard him as a ‘hero’ for making the country a nuclear state.
Security around Dr Khan’s house remains tight with intelligence operatives in plainclothes posted around it. He cannot leave his residence and cannot meet anyone.
It is learnt that some former colleagues of Dr Khan from the Khan Research Laboratories have not been allowed to meet him.
Dr Khan appeared in public after a long time on Friday when the court verdict was announced and he came outside his house and talked to the media.