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Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Be careful, A.Q. Khan

The Dawn in Pakistan has this brief, enigmatic editorial:

Five and a half years since his sensational confession on national television, Mr Khan is almost sure to use the days ahead to portray himself as a victim of Gen Musharraf’s (retd) rule and to try to salvage his reputation with the help of sympathetic elements in the media. But perhaps just as Mr Khan was wronged in 2004 for being singled out, he is wrong for blaming Mr Musharraf alone. The fact is, A.Q. Khan is regarded by the country’s nuclear establishment as a disgraced scientist and it was this collective, we stress collective, judgment that resulted in his downfall. Few here fault Mr Khan for engaging a shadowy network of nuclear proliferators to help build a nuclear programme when not one of the nuclear haves in the world was willing to sanction such technology for Pakistan. But the difficulty arises once it becomes clear that Mr Khan was not just taking from that network, but supplying it with centrifuges and blueprints for various parts of a nuclear programme for sale onwards to other countries. It is certainly doubtful that Mr Khan acted entirely on his own, but there is no question that he was part of a network that nearly rendered Pakistan a nuclear rogue state in the eyes of the world — a near-disastrous outcome that is worsened by the fact that a motive as base as material greed was involved.  [As opposed to a motive as noble as forcing the infidels to submit to the will of Allah?]

Be that as it may, what will worry the [Pakistani] nuclear establishment is that Mr Khan will go beyond his bitterness towards a former dictator and perhaps start to talk about the many, many secrets he undoubtedly keeps regarding the country’s nuclear programme. And they will certainly worry that a free A.Q. Khan is a vulnerable A.Q Khan — vulnerable to foreign agencies that would love nothing better than to get their hands on the man. We hope, therefore, that Mr Khan will be cautious in his words and movements, and that those who interpret what he says and does keep in mind that he has an axe to grind.

The unnamed authors seem to be mainly fretting that Khan will let some of the cats out of the bag regarding Pakistan's nuclear program, and even if he does so, pre-emptively call for his words to be disregarded.  There is also the slight whiff of threat in those admonitions to be careful.  See here for more on A. Q. Khan.

Posted on 09/01/2009 12:05 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
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