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Updated: May 28, 2010 23:01 IST

A.Q. Khan a "free citizen"

PTI
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Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. File photo: AP.
Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. File photo: AP.

Disgraced nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan is a “free citizen”, a Pakistan court declared on Friday and ruled that authorities cannot restrict his movements or activities within the country.

Acting on a petition filed by Dr. Khan challenging restrictions imposed on him by the government, Justice Ijaz Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court declared him a “free citizen”. “[Dr. Khan] can move freely and continue his activities,” said Justice Chaudhry while wrapping up the hearing of Mr. Khan's petition. Holding the authorities responsible for providing security to the scientist, the judge directed the government to implement an agreement with Dr. Khan on his movements in “letter and spirit”.

Dr. Khan was put under house arrest in early 2004 after he admitted to running a clandestine nuclear proliferation ring. He later recanted that confession, saying it was made under pressure from the regime of the former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf.

Friday's court verdict on Dr. Khan came even as Pakistan observed the 12th anniversary of its nuclear tests of May 1998. “The tests were conducted 12 years ago but I had informed [the former military ruler] Zia-ul-Haq on December 10, 1984 that we could conduct [the nuclear] tests at a week's notice,” Dr. Khan told reporters.

India conducted its nuclear tests in May, 1998 and “Pakistan was forced to conduct tests in response”, he said.

“We have only one enemy — India — which wants to attack us and destroy us. But there is no danger that any country [can attack us or that] something like 1971 can happen again,” said Dr. Khan said, referring to the creation of Bangladesh out of East Pakistan in 1971.

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