Paper no. 1196
21. 12. 2004
.............A.Q.KHAN: THE GHOST THAT CONTINUES TO HAUNT
13. In the meanwhile as Gen (retd).Jehangir Karamat, Musharraf's predecessor as the Chief of the Army Staff, took over as the new Pakistani Ambassador to the US, some American non-proliferation experts drew attention to his alleged role in the conclusion of a deal between the North Korean and the Benazir Bhutto Governments, which led to the supply of North Korean missiles to Pakistan and the assistance to North Korea in the enrichment field. They wondered whether it was wise on the part of the Bush Administration to have accepted him as the Pakistani Ambassador. They were apparently worried that this could come in the way of a more thorough investigation into the nuclear-missile barter between Pakistan and North Korea, which has not yet received the same attention as the nuclear deals with Iran and Libya.
14. Non-proliferation activists have also started focussing on Saudi Arabia of late. Did it have nuclear aspirations too? If so, were there any deals with Pakistan?
15. As more and more disclosures emerge and as more and more inconvenient questions are being asked, most analyses are coming back to the question: Could Dr.Khan and a small group of scientists close to him have done this as a rogue operation without the approval and involvement of the political and military leadership of the country? Should the outside world be satisfied with Musharraf's contention that Khan had been thoroughly interrogated and that all the information given by him shared with others and that no further interrogation is needed. Definitely not by outsiders, he says.
16. Should the world be satisfied with Musharraf's assurance that it was a rogue operation by a small group of greedy scientists and that there is nothing more to be learnt? One thing stands out clearly from the recent developments--- the entire truth has not come out. Only part of the story, as given out by Musharraf, has come out. Is it not necessary for the safety of the lives of billions of innocent civilians, who face the threat of a possible use of weapons of mass destruction by the jihadi terrorists, to find out the truth?
17. There is only one man in Pakistan who has the entire picture right from the day the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto launched a clandestine project for acquiring a military nuclear capability in the 1970s, brought Khan, then a young scientist working in Holland, and made him in charge of it. Since then, scientists have come and scientists have gone, but Khan has been a constant, shining star in Pakistan's nuclear firmament. Leaders have come and leaders have gone, but Khan continued undisturbed as Pakistan's nuclear Czar and became the blue-eyed boy of all leaders--- political or military, to whatever side of the political spectrum they belonged. Without having him interrogated by an independent outside panel, the truth will never be known.
18. India was sneered upon in the 1970s by the outside world, particularly by the US, when it discovered the launching of the atomic bomb project by Z.A.Bhutto, his projection of it as an Islamic bomb to the Ummah in order to get funds for the project and his appointment of A.Q.Khan as the head of the project and rang the alarm bell. Its cries of alarm were attributed to what was projected as its compulsive anti-Pakistan reflexes.
19. When India raised an alarm about the construction of the Kahuta enrichment plant, it was told that Khan was a glorified store-keeper in the Holland plant and would not be able to develop an enrichment capability. He did.
20. When India raised another alarm about the Chinese sharing their old nuclear designs with Pakistan, it was attributed to its anti-China reflexes.
21. I have been writing about the Pakistan-North Korea nuclear-missile axis since 1998 and have written nearly a dozen articles on it. People were told not to take my articles seriously because of my intelligence background. I was projected as an anti-Pakistan analyst, who misses no opportunity to have Pakistan discredited.
22. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Each and every one of my articles has proved correct in retrospect. If the international community has A.Q.Khan thoroughly interrogated by an independent panel of outside experts as recommended by me in an earlier article, we may still be able to find out the entire truth and contribute to saving the world from a possible act of nuclear or radiological terrorism.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Capter. E-mail: email@example.com )
POSTSCRIPT: "The News", the prestigious daily of Pakistan, reported as follows on December 16: 'The government has sought return of official (blue) passports of those KRL (Khan Research Laboratory at Kahuta, which produces weapons-grade enriched uranium) employees who were investigated or are still being probed......Besides Dr AQ Khan, Dr Ghulam Yasin Chohan, Saeed Ahmed, Dr Muhammad Atta, Muhammad Fahim, Chaudhary Muhammad Ashraf, Riaz Ahmed Chohan, FH Hashmi, Raja Arshad Mehboob, M Shamimur Rehman, Raja Gul Jabbar, Dr Abdul Majeed and Badarul Islam have been asked to comply with the latest instructions......The News has learnt that the passports would be used to track down foreign movement of these officials. Earlier, an SBP (State Bank of Pakistan) directive had sought bank account details of Dr AQ Khan, 16 members of his family and 12 other nuclear scientists and members of their families. The SBP had also directed commercial banks to forward details of accounts of the sc ientists such as account number and type, account opening form, latest balance and statement of accounts. An official said the government "simply wants to corroborate the statements made by the officials in custody or during the investigation with the situation on ground as it exists in the documents".