The Pakistani government on Tuesday sought a ban on the free movement of Abdul Qadeer Khan, who mentored the country’s nuclear programme and was then accused of proliferating nuclear secrets abroad.
In a petition filed in the Lahore High Court on Tuesday, the government said Dr. Khan’s free movement should be banned as he was a threat to national security, having shared sensitive information with the international media.
The petition said Dr. Khan should be kept under constant surveillance by the authorities and a security escort should be assigned to him.
The court issued notice to Khan to reply to the petition on January 25.
In February, the Islamabad High Court had lifted Dr. Khan’s house arrest that was imposed in 2004 after he “confessed” on national television to the proliferation charges.
“These things happen. We should forget and look forward,” Dr. Khan had said after the verdict, noting that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also been “inside” (jail).
In an interview to IANS in May 2008, Dr. Khan claimed that he never sold nuclear technology illegally and that he should have never made a confession to that effect.
Describing himself as “an innocent man”, Dr. Khan had said that Pakistan’s nuclear assets and weapons were “quite safe” and they could not be taken out of the country.
The civilian government that came to power in March 2008, had eased the restrictions placed on Dr. Khan.
Dr. Khan said he was “forced” by “some elements” in the Musharraf-led government to confess to presiding over an illegal network supplying nuclear technology to countries such as North Korea and Libya.
He said he was told this would be in national interest. “I think the confession was my mistake,” he said.
Soon after his January confession, Dr. Khan was pardoned by Gen. Musharraf but placed under house arrest.
Dr. Khan was born in India and went over to Pakistan in 1952, five years after the subcontinent was partitioned.