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Assets of nuclear scientist frozen

January 31, 2002


ISLAMABAD, Jan 30: The government has frozen the accounts and assets of the nuclear scientist, Dr Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mehmood, recipient of Presidential Award Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1999, on the recommendations of the UN Security Council for his links with Taliban and Al Qaeda network.

According to foreign office sources, the decision to freeze the assets and accounts of the nuclear scientist was taken on the recommendations of the UN Security Council which issued an updated list on Jan 24, calling for action against individuals and entities associated with Taliban or Al Qaeda. The assets and funds of another nuclear scientist, Abdul Majeed, have also been frozen, sources said.

Foreign Office spokesperson Aziz Khan, when contacted, said after the decision of the Security Council, it was mandatory on Pakistan to implement the recommendations.

The new consolidated list issued by the Security Council, pursuant to its resolutions of 1267 of 1999, 1333 of 2000 and 1390 of 2002 also calls for freezing assets and financial resources of Hizbul Mujahideen, a group placed on the list of terrorist organisations by the United States, and Ummah Tameer-i- Nau, the NGO run by Sultan Bashir-ud-Din.

Investigations by Dawn revealed that Dr Mehmood had been “conditionally” released by the government. He has been asked to remain available on an hour’s notice, and a mobile telephone has been given to him for the purpose.

During captivity, the nuclear scientist was interrogated by a joint team of Pakistani and US officials. The US officials comprised members of the FBI, CIA and scientists.

The US scientists also questioned Dr Mehmood on the predictions in his book titled Sun Spots and the Doomsday, published in 1997, said sources close to Dr Mehmood. The book predicts cataclysmic events in 2002 in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.

The petition filed by Dr Sultan Mehmood’s mother in the Lahore High Court became infractuous after his conditional release by the government, said the family sources.

However, official sources said special security arrangements had been made to protect the nuclear scientist “on his own request.”

According to information gleaned from close family sources, the personal account of Dr Mehmood had been frozen. The residence where the nuclear scientist lives is in the name of the wife and children of the scientist, hence, it was not taken over by the government.

Dr Mehmood was the first project director of Kahuta Research Laboratories from 1973 till 1976 and Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan worked as his subordinate during that time. Later, through an in-house change, Dr Qadeer replaced Dr Mehmud.

The nuclear scientist is also said to be the designer and architect of the indigenous nuclear reactor.

On March 23, 1999, the President of Pakistan conferred Sitara-i-Imtiaz on Dr Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mehmood in recognition of his services to the country.

On Jan 1, 2000, Dr Mehmood resigned in protest from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).

In September 2000, he founded an NGO, Ummah Tameer-i-Nau, to carry out relief work in Afghanistan.

During January 2001, Dr Mehmood established a flour mill in Kandahar and also met Taliban supreme leader Mulla Omar, in the company of a former PAEC employee, Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, and a businessman of Lahore, Mirza Yusuf Beg.

After Sept 11 attacks on the US, Dr Mehmood was arrested by Pakistani intelligence agencies on Oct 23 from Lahore.

However, sources said, a firm decision of not handing over Dr Mehmood to the US authorities has been taken by the government.

Lately, a perception has set in the official circles that perhaps the government acted “indiscreetly in arresting Dr Sultan Bashir-ud-Din in the aftermath of Sept 11 under US prodding.”

Farhatullah Babar, a family friend of Dr Mehmood and spokesperson of the PPP, who met the nuclear scientist recently, said: “Dr Bashir has been wronged by the government and a signal has been sent to the Pakistani scientist that they would have to defend themselves in any eventuality which becomes too hot to handle for the government.”