ISLAMABAD, Feb 4: The cabinet will discuss on Thursday a 'mercy petition' submitted by Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan on Wednesday, officials said.

The National Command Authority, headed by President Gen Pervez Musharraf, had deliberated on the petition for clemency and forwarded it to the cabinet for its consideration.

The special session of the NCA was convened by the president after he received the petition from Dr Khan during a meeting with him. Dr Khan accepted full responsibility for nuclear proliferation activities when he was at the helm of KRL's affairs, the sources said.

An official announcement said the NCA was updated by the director-general, strategic plans division, Lt-Gen Khalid Kidwai, on the investigation on nuclear proliferation. "The NCA also deliberated upon the mercy petition submitted by Dr A.Q. Khan to the president of Pakistan earlier in the day. The NCA decided to forward the mercy petition to the federal cabinet for its consideration."

Official statements issued after the NCA session and Musharraf-Qadeer meeting made no mention of "personal gains" for proliferation of nuclear technology.

President Musharraf is on record having said some of the officials had taken part in proliferation activities for "personal gains."

Dr Khan read out a statement on PTV. The statement which, according to PTV sources, had been recorded before his meeting with the president, mentioned of "good faith" for his nuclear proliferation activities.

These sources said that the official statement given to Dr Khan to read out had only mentioned of "error of judgment" for the nuclear proliferation activities but Dr Khan added the word "in good faith" to that.

Earlier, an official statement said that Dr Khan had made a request for meeting with the president which was accepted. "During the meeting, Dr A.Q. Khan reconfirmed to the president the details of the proliferation activities that he had committed in the past and had admitted earlier in interviews with the investigating team appointed by the government."

The statement said: "Dr A.Q. Khan had submitted before the president that he accepts full responsibility for the proliferation activities which were conducted by him during the period in which he was at the helm of affairs of KRL."

The statement quoted Dr Khan as having said he "realized that these activities, which were in clear violation of different Pakistani laws, could have seriously jeopardized Pakistan's nuclear capability and put the nation at risk". It said: "Dr A.Q. Khan submitted his mercy petition to the president and requested for clemency, in view of his services to national security."

The president said the entire nation had been severely traumatized by unfortunate events of the last two months.

"Dr A.Q. Khan expressed his regrets and said that he was likely to make a statement to the nation on his own volition. The president will consult the National Command Authority before the final decision is taken on the mercy petition," the official statement said.

Dr Khan, in his statement, offered "deep regrets" and "unqualified apologies" to a traumatized nation. Dr Khan said he had realized in retrospect that his lifetime achievement of providing foolproof national security to his nation could have been placed in serious jeopardy on account of his activities "which were based in good faith but on errors of judgment related to unauthorized proliferation activities".

Dr Khan said those of his subordinates who had accepted their role in the affair were acting in good faith, like him, and on his instructions. "I also wish to clarify that there was never ever any kind of authorization for these activities by any government official. I take full responsibility for my actions and seek your pardon."

The NCA meeting was attended by Gen Musharraf, Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, ministers and top army officials.

AFP adds: "I gave him (the president) the background... what was happening and what had happened," Dr Khan told PTV.

Dr Khan said: "He (Gen Musharraf) appreciated the frankness with which I gave him the details and Insha Allah he will discuss with the cabinet, with the prime minister, with other colleagues and then he will take a decision how to proceed and close this matter."

Text of Dr Khan's statement

ISLAMABAD, Feb 4: Following is the text of nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan's statement issued on Wednesday:

My dear ladies and gentlemen

It is with the deepest sense of sorrow, anguish and regret that I have chosen to appear before you in order to atone for some of the anguish and pain that has been suffered by the people of Pakistan on account of the extremely unfortunate events of the last two months.

I am aware of the vital criticality of Pakistan's nuclear programme to our national security and the national pride and emotions which it generates in your hearts. I am also conscious that any untoward event, incident or threat to this national capability draws the greatest concern in the nation's psyche.

It is in this context that the recent international events and their fallout on Pakistan have traumatized the nation. I have much to answer for it.

The recent investigation was ordered by the government of Pakistan, consequent to the disturbing disclosures and evidence by some countries to international agencies, relating to alleged proliferation activities by certain Pakistanis and foreigners over the last two decades. The investigation has established that many of the reported activities did occur, and that these were invariably initiated at my behest.

In my interviews with the concerned government officials, I was confronted with the evidence and the findings, and I have voluntarily admitted that much of it is true and accurate.

My dear brothers and sisters, I have chosen to appear before you to offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a traumatized nation. I am aware of the high esteem, love and affection in which you have held me for my services to national security, and I am grateful for all the awards and honours that have been bestowed upon me.

However, it pains me to realize in retrospect that my entire lifetime achievement of providing foolproof national security to my nation could have been placed in serious jeopardy on account of my activities which were based in good faith but on errors of judgement related to unauthorized proliferation activities.

I wish to place on record that those of my subordinates who have accepted their role in the affair were acting in good faith, like me, on my instructions. I also wish to clarify that there was never ever any kind of authorization for these activities by a government official.

I take full responsibility for my actions and seek your pardon. I give an assurance, my dear brothers and sisters, that such activities will never take place in the future. I also appeal to all citizens of Pakistan, in the supreme national interest, to refrain from any further speculations and not to politicize this extremely sensitive issue of national security. May Allah keep Pakistan safe and secure.-APP