↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Opening the A. Q. Khan Can of Worms Analysis by Beena Sarwar

Generally referred to, even by the international media, as ‘the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb’, A.Q. Khan’s role is in fact rather different from this popular perception.

It was the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who, while foreign minister, famously declared in 1965 that "Pakistan will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, in order to develop a (nuclear) programme of its own’’.

As minister for mineral resources Bhutto got the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC, founded in 1954) to set up the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Sciences and Technology in 1960, sending hundreds of students abroad to study physics and other nuclear-related science disciplines.

"After the Chinese nuclear test in 1964, he concluded that if India would go nuclear Pakistan would have to follow the suit," commented the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in a 2007 dossier on the Pakistan nuclear programme.

Pakistan’s well-regarded monthly ‘Defence Journal’ detailed Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme in its cover story of May 2004, ‘Remembering Unsung Heroes: Munir Ahmed Khan’. The report terms Bhutto, the ‘political’ father, and A.Q. Khan’s boss, Munir Ahmed Khan, the ‘technical’ father of the bomb.


Many Pakistanis still regard Khan as a hero for making the country a nuclear state, but others are more sceptical.

"The disinformation is so extreme, it is shocking how the private television channels celebrated his release," one Karachi-based observer told IPS, asking not to be named. "How come people are not curious about how he made so much money and brought international disgrace upon the country? He should be in jail and tried for treason."

That is unlikely to happen, say observers, because at least some elements of the Pakistan army must have been involved in Khan’s deals, without which they would not have been possible.

Khan in an interview of July 2008, said that a shipment of centrifuges from Pakistan to North Korea in 2000 was "supervised by the army during the rule of President Pervez Musharraf... the army had complete knowledge about it and the equipment."

Releasing Khan now, says an analyst, "will either expose all who were involved, or it is plain foolishness."


Post a Comment

<< Home