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Pak scientist AQ Khan under distress

Khan is suffering from "mental distress" due to comments by leaders that they will hand him over to int'l authorities if they come to power.

world Updated: Dec 15, 2007 20:21 IST

Disgraced Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, under house arrest since he was linked to a nuclear proliferation network, is suffering from "mental distress" due to comments by leaders that they would hand him over to international authorities if they come to power.

Seventy-one year old Khan has been confined to his home here since he confessed in February 2004 to his involvement in selling nuclear technology and know-how to Libya and North Korea.

President Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan, regarded as the father of the Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, and said he would not be handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency for questioning.

However, former premier Benazir Bhutto has said she will allow foreign investigators to have access to Khan if her Pakistan People's Party wins the January 8 polls.

Musharraf has criticised Bhutto for making such comments.

The political turmoil in the country and the statements by Pakistan's largest political party have caused "mounting mental distress" for Khan, 'The Nation' quoted sources close to the scientist as saying.

The stress has also worsened the health of Khan, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.

In recent months, the Pakistani government has eased some of the restrictions put on Khan though his movements are strictly controlled.