Pak seeks media ban on AQ Khan

LAHORE: The Pakistani government today asked a court to prevent disgraced

nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan giving interviews to the media.

The government was annoyed

by two articles published in The

Washington Post this month, claiming they had “national security implications for Pakistan” as they contained allegations related to its nuclear


The move came three weeks before Pakistan is scheduled to attend a

US summit on nuclear security hosted by President Barack Obama which

will focus on securing vulnerable atomic materials and preventing acts of nuclear terrorism.

Ahmar Bilal Sufi, the attorney representing the government, said the authorities wanted to question Khan about the contents of the articles.

“The contents of the articles have national security implications for Pakistan as they contain allegations related to nuclear programme and nuclear cooperation,” the government said in the application.

“There is a conspiracy against Pakistan’s strategic interests and it is necessary to... take urgent measures in this regard,” added the paperwork submitted to the Lahore High Court in eastern Pakistan.

While the facts are investigated, the application demanded that Khan in the meantime “be directed to refrain from any interaction with media.” Ali Zafar, a lawyer representing Khan, said his client denied giving any interviews and said the court adjourned the hearing until Wednesday.

Last week, a Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman rejected the Washington Post stories as “fiction.” Khan has filed a string of complaints in court against security arrangements to which he has been subject since his five-year house arrest for operating a nuclear proliferation network was lifted in February 2009.

In 2004, Khan, who is the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, admitted on television that he leaked nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya, although he later retracted his remarks. The United States has warned that 73-year-old Khan still represents a nuclear proliferation risk and has long raised fears about the scientist.

After Khan’s televised “confession” in 2004, then president Pervez Musharraf pardoned the scientist, who is revered in Pakistan as a

national hero, but he was kept

under house arrest.