x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Pakistan's defiant nuclear scientist AQ Khan released

After being under house arrest for five years Pakistan's nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has been released. When asked whether he has made the world more dangerous, Dr Khan replied, 'I don't care about the rest of the world. I care about my country.' Israel's elections are likely to mark the emergence of a far-right force led by Avidgor Lieberman, with a racist anti-Arab agenda, as the country's power broker.

After being under house arrest for five years Pakistan's nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has been released. Following the judicial order that led to his release, lawyers who have been campaigning for the restoration of Pakistan's Chief Justice Chaudhry and other judges of the superior judiciary who were suspended under the rule of former president Musharraf, are now optimistic that the judges will be reinstated. When asked by ABC News what he would say to those who suggest he has made the world more dangerous, Dr Khan replied, "I don't care about the rest of the world. I care about my country. "Obama cares about America - not about Pakistan, or India, Afghanistan, or anyone else," he said. "I have made Pakistan a safer place. That you are standing here and talking, and India not blowing on your neck, this is my contribution." Time magazine reported: "Although it is unclear whether Pakistan's new civilian government had a hand in his release, Khan offered thanks to President Asif Ali Zardari for lifting the restrictions imposed on him by his predecessor, Pervez Musharraf. Zardari may have been averse to the international criticism likely to come from restoring Khan's freedom of movement, but it was a government clarification that was key to the court's decision. A government lawyer told the court some weeks ago that Khan was not under formal house arrest but merely kept under tight security for his own protection. Seizing on that admission, the court said that since there are no charges - and since Khan was pardoned by Musharraf soon after his confession - he should be allowed to move." ABC News said: "The extent of Khan's international network and the sheer physical presence of some of the materials he sold have led many to believe he was supported by the Pakistani state, something the government have vociferously denied. Khan himself claimed he had sold equipment to North Korea with the full knowledge of the military, then headed by President Pervez Musharraf. " 'These centrifuges weighed something like half a ton each. You can't put them in your coat pocket and walk away with them,' [Dr. Pervez] Hoodbhoy [chairman of the physics department at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad] said. 'It obviously involved a lot of official support. ... If there were aircraft of the Pakistan air force that flew these centrifuges out - well, obviously there had to be somebody at the top who was also involved.' "It was not clear whether Khan would be allowed to travel completely freely. He told journalists he would have to seek permission to travel outside the country and said he was free to move around inside. His wife told reporters that the government still held his passport." In the United States, a state department official said: "We believe AQ Khan remains a serious proliferation risk. The proliferation support that Khan and his associates provided to Iran and North Korea has had a harmful impact on the international - on international security, and will for years to come." Pakistan's foreign ministry said the government had investigated Dr Khan's past proliferation, shared its findings with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, and put in place tight controls that would prevent anything similar from happening again, the Associated Press reported. "We have successfully broken the network that he had set up and today he has no say and has no access to any of the sensitive areas of Pakistan," the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday. "AQ Khan is history." The Washington Post reported: "Nearly five years after Khan's smuggling operation came to light, the international effort to prosecute its leaders is largely in shambles, yielding convictions of only a few minor participants and no significant prison time for any of them. "Meanwhile, the much-touted cooperation between the United States and its partners in the investigation of the network also is in disarray. In recent weeks, Washington has faced accusations that it withheld crucial documents from key allies and allowed its spies to run covert operations in friendly countries without permission. "Worst of all, the recent discovery of nuclear weapons blueprints on computers found in Switzerland and Dubai has prompted questions about whether the damage inflicted by the network was truly contained - or even understood. It is possible, US officials concede, that Khan and his allies shared nuclear secrets with still-unknown countries and, perhaps, terrorist groups, as well."

"Israeli politicians are winding down what have been, at best, lacklustre election campaigns," reported Katya Adler for BBC News. "Israeli voters are not impressed. This is an election focused more on personality than politics. "As candidates for prime minister, Israelis have complained they either have the choice between two failed former premiers - Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak - or an unknown, many say, uninspiring candidate in Tzipi Livni. "Little separates the three in terms of policies that matter to the Israeli electorate. Following Israel's recent bloody operation in Gaza, health, education and the economy barely feature, even though Israel, like many other countries, is heading into a recession." The Observer reported: "On Tuesday, if all the polls are right, [the Yisrael Beytenu party leader, Avigdor] Lieberman will emerge as the most significant beneficiary of an Israeli general election campaign played out against the bloody background of the three-week assault on Gaza in which more than 1,300 Palestinians died, many of them civilians. "The rightwing Likud party of Benyamin Netanyahu will probably emerge as the winner ahead of the Kadima party of Tzipi Livni. But most Israelis also recognise the wider significance of the moment: these elections are likely to mark the emergence of a far-right force, with a racist anti-Arab agenda, as the country's power broker." The Los Angeles Times reported: "Avigdor Lieberman's attacks on Arabs have shaken up the race for parliament and prime minister. He is drawing large, boisterous crowds that delight in chanting his slogan - 'Without loyalty, there is no citizenship' - and back his proposal for a mandatory loyalty oath to the Jewish state. "Fueled by the political fallout from Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip, Lieberman has scored the biggest gains in the final week of the campaign. Polls published Friday show that his party, Israel Is Our Home, has climbed into third place. That means Lieberman, once a marginal provocateur on the extreme right, could well be the pivotal player as Israel forms a multiparty governing coalition after Tuesday's election." The columnist, Michael Barizon, wrote in Ynet: "we can no longer deny that Lieberman is the State of Israel's most accurate depiction. "This is exactly what Israel looks like. These are its values, its voice, and its hopes. "A Lieberman state does not deserve to have a well-groomed, polite, coherent and false face. It needs to get the face it deserves. To look just the way it is. Just the way we are. Because evil, just like justice, must be seen, not only be done."

pwoodward@thenational.ae