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Pak must give access to AQ Khan: US

Four members of the House of Representatives on Thursday introduced a bill that would cut off military aid to Pakistan unless the United States is allowed to question disgraced nuclear scientist AQ Khan, reports V Krishna.

world Updated: Mar 14, 2009 00:52 IST
V. Krishna

Four members of the House of Representatives on Thursday introduced a bill that would cut off military aid to Pakistan unless the United States is allowed to question disgraced nuclear scientist AQ Khan.

The bill, sponsored by Democrats Jane Harman (California), Ellen Tauscher (California) and Gerry Connolly (Virginia) and Republican Ed Royce (California), also requires President Barack Obama to certify that Pakistan has promised to closely monitor Khan’s activities.

Khan, revered in Pakistan as the father of its atomic bomb, is widely believed to have provided nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and possibly Syria. He was under house arrest until February, when he was freed by a court.

“Khan is again a loose nuke scientist with proven ability to sell the worst weapons to the worst people,” said Harman, chair of the Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence and terrorism risk assessment. “Hopefully, appropriate Pakistani officials worry as we do that their civilians could become nuclear targets — as could NATO soldiers in neighbouring Afghanistan or civilians in any number of Western countries.

“Our bill provides a path for the Zardari government to do the right thing — to allow the United States to evaluate the full extent of A.Q. Khan’s proliferation activities in order to halt any ongoing or future harm.”

The bill would, however, give the president the power to waive the restriction if it is in the US national interest to do so.

The United States has provided more than $7.9 billion in military assistance to Pakistan since September 11, 2001.