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‘Solitary confinement’ in own home: Father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb petitions high court for ‘freedom’

‘Solitary confinement’ in own home: Father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb petitions high court for ‘freedom’
The atomic scientist chiefly responsible for making Pakistan a nuclear power is now asking the country’s Supreme Court to set him free, as he has spent almost 15 years under guard in his home, cut off from family and friends.

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, was detained in 2004 after confessing to illegally giving nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. He was first imprisoned by the government of General Pervez Musharraf, who was himself ousted in 2008 and recently convicted in absentia of treason.

Now 83, Khan is petitioning the highest court in the land to relax the security regime, saying that it violates his basic human rights.

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While his house arrest officially ended in 2009, the measures that replaced it have required Khan to inform authorities of all his movements in advance and be accompanied by security personnel everywhere.

“Can the government authorities be allowed to violate constitutional safeguards while restraining the petitioner from meeting his near and dear ones, servants, family members, friends, journalists, teaching staff of different colleges, universities, high officials and bureaucrats?” the scientist said in the petition, which his attorney submitted on Monday.

Needless to say that employees of security agencies have no other assignment, but to keep me confined to my house as if in solitary confinement

Khan is credited with founding Pakistan’s uranium enrichment program, and heading the nuclear research laboratory in Kahuta, Punjab until he retired in 2001. Pakistan conducted its first atomic weapon test in 1998.

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The scientist went from hero to villain almost overnight, however, when the Musharraf government came under fire from the West for allegedly selling nuclear weapons technology to “rogue states.” Khan took the blame on himself, which landed him under house arrest.

In his petition, Khan reportedly said he feels proud of doing his part to secure Pakistan from the “evil eyes” of neighbors and other adversaries, and that he is an old and ailing man who should not be kept under constant restraint and fear of physical harm.

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