Pakistani authorities have tripled the security of disgraced nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan amid threats from the Taliban and “fears of a repeat of the Abbottabad raid” which killed Osama bin Laden, a media report said on Thursday.
Other than extraordinary security deployment at his residence, Mr. Khan is now being accorded protocol almost equal to that of the Prime Minister when he travels, the report added.
Mr. Khan confirmed increase in the security personnel, The News daily said, adding although he was told that deployment had been carried out keeping in view the country’s situation, sources privy to the decision confided it was intended to avert any Abbottabad-type raid as he has been on the U.S. radar due to his alleged involvement in nuclear proliferation.
He is in demand for questioning.
“A repeat of Abbottabad-like incident would be a national shame for us,” an unnamed official was quoted as saying.
There were around 40 personnel and two colonel-rank officers assigned on the security duty of Mr. Khan in the past that now has been increased to 120 personnel and four officers.
Besides, a convoy of 10 vehicles escort Mr. Khan’s bulletproof jeep during his movement within Islamabad, the report said.
It added that no European and American is allowed to live in the surroundings of Mr. Khan’s residence though Arab nationals can rent an accommodation in the vicinity but after securing security clearance from the Interior Ministry.
Other than police, Kahuta Research Laboratory’s rapid response force as well as elite force has also been deployed to safeguard Mr. Khan in addition to intelligence officials.
Mr. Khan had last week announced the dissolution of his political party the Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz Pakistan (TTP).
He was put under house arrest in 2004 after he admitted to running a secret proliferation ring that provided know-how and nuclear components to countries like North Korea and Libya.
He later denied any involvement and claimed he did everything under orders.
The previous PPP government had eased some of the restrictions on Mr. Khan after he filed cases in court.
“It is like death that comes uninvited,” Mr. Khan said commenting on the increase in security personnel, arguing that there had been no demand from his side.
Asked about the reason described to him for this reinforcement, Mr. Khan said he was told that the measures were taken keeping in view the overall security situation as the TTP had been attacking noted figures.