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Pak eases restrictions on nuke scientist

Pakistan relaxes restrictions on Abdul Qadeer Khan and allowed him to see friends outside the house where he has been detained for the past four years.

world Updated: May 22, 2008 13:20 IST
Kamran Haider

Pakistan has relaxed restrictions on disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and allowed him to see friends outside the house where he has been detained for the past four years, his wife said on Thursday.

"There has been relaxation to this extent that he was allowed to go the Academy of Sciences yesterday," Henny Khan told Reuters, referring to an academy in the capital, Islamabad, of which Khan was president in the 1990s.
"But we don't know, we have to wait and see whether that's a one-off thing or they're going to allow him on a regular basis," she said.

Khan, revered by many Pakistanis as the father of the country's atomic bomb, was put under house arrest by President Pervez Musharraf after an investigation was launched into his proliferation activities in 2003.

Shortly after that, Khan made a televised confession to smuggling nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
U.S. and other foreign investigators looking into nuclear proliferation want to question him about his activities but the government has blocked access to him, saying it has shared information gleaned from him with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Khan told a Pakistani newspaper last month that his detention was "irrational" and he hoped a new coalition government led by the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto would release him.

Before her assassination in December, Bhutto had said she would allow foreign investigators to question Khan.
The government has yet to set out a stand on Khan although some officials have suggested he should be freed.

Khan, 70, underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2006. He spent a few days in hospital in March for treatment of a fever.

Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998, weeks after arch-rival India conducted tests.