Washington: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Sunday defended his decision to bar foreign authorities from interrogating the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, disgraced scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
“Indeed, I did not allow any foreign organization, any foreigner to directly contact Dr. A.Q. Khan. We are doing it ourselves, and we are capable of doing it,” Musharraf told CNN.
Musharraf said Khan's case was “sensitive” due to his popularity in Pakistan, where he is regarded as the father of the country's nuclear bomb.
“I think the sensitivity of ours is quite clearly understood,” he said. “This man has been a hero to the man in the street, and therefore, we have to tread in some sensitive areas.”
Musharraf pardoned Khan after the scientist admitted in 2004 that he had leaked atomic secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. The scientist is being held under house arrest.
Musharraf said Pakistan was able to interrogate Khan without the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency or other world organizations.
“Why is it that we are not being trusted for our capability in interrogating him? Why is it that we are not being trusted that we are sharing all the intelligence and information that we get out of him?” Musharraf said.
“Now, if there is a new piece of information that is acquired by anyone, if that is passed onto us, we will again interrogate, and we have full capability of interrogation, and we will again share the information which we have with anyone,” he said.
“We are very sincere in sharing all that we acquire in the form of interrogation from him,” Musharraf added.