April 9, 2008

Dr Qadeer again

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:11 am


APRIL 09, 2008


Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is again in the news. After remaining under effective house arrest since 2004, when he was made to confess on national television to being involved in the proliferation of nuclear technology, the new government has stated it plans to reduce the restrictions on his movement and other freedoms. In a telephonic interview, Dr Qadeer has meanwhile claimed that he made his confession only to save Pakistan and that he had in fact also previously saved the nation through the nuclear weapons tested in 1998, converting the country into the world’s first Muslim state with nuclear capability.

There are of course many controversies that surround Dr Qadeer. The whole truth behind his story — like much else that forms a part of Pakistan’s history — may indeed never be known. International requests to question him have repeatedly been turned down and it is still unclear what role, if any, he played in selling nuclear secrets to other countries. And, at a wider, more philosophical level, there is a need for debate on the morality of nuclear weapons and whether expenditure on such means to destroy human life can ever be justified. But for all this, the fact is that for many, indeed for the majority of Pakistanis, Dr Qadeer is a national hero. For almost four years now, Dr Qadeer has been denied the liberty to leave his home in Islamabad even to eat at a restaurant or visit close family members. His family has alleged he has even been denied medical treatment. On the principal of human rights, the decision now taken to allow Dr Qadeer at least some limited right to movement and to relax the curbs on him is welcome. This is all the more true given his advanced years.

But special security arrangements must now be made to keep Dr Qadeer safe as he may be the target of many, including the Americans, as President Pervez Musharraf recently pointed out. He is wanted for questioning and some may try to eliminate him because he knows rather too much for comfort. The decision regarding the country’s top scientist is also in keeping with electoral promises made by the PML-N and as such should go down well with people on the whole, reaffirming faith in the good intentions of government. The episode also proves how injustice and attempts, perceived or otherwise, to malign people by the state act to enhance their status in the eyes of people and this is a lesson that holds true not just for Dr Qadeer but also others held illegally by agencies or other forces across the country. It is hoped that in the months ahead these persons, who include alleged terrorists and nationalist leaders, will also be released and the practice of riding roughshod over the rule of law when imposing detentions of various kinds on people — whether within their homes or in cells – abandoned once and for all.


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