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How did Pak let Khan go free: US senators

US senators ask how Pakistan allowed scientist A.Q.Khan to go scot-free despite being "the worst proliferator ever".

india Updated: Feb 27, 2004 15:01 IST
Vasantha Arora (Indo-Asian News Service)
Vasantha Arora (Indo-Asian News Service)

US senators have asked Secretary of State Colin Powell how Pakistan allowed scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan to go scot-free despite being "the worst proliferator ever".

"We have a guy in Pakistan that 10 years ago, if you would have found him selling that stuff, you'd have hung him in the marketplace," said Senator Pete Domenici, a Republican.

Khan, known as the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, was pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf after the former confessed to selling for monetary gain nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Domenici's comments about the "worst proliferator" came when Powell appeared before the Senate Budget Committee to present his department's 2005 budget request.

The committee chairman, Senator Don Nickles, a Republican, also brought it up and sought an explanation from Powell.

However, Powell defended Musharraf's decision and said the US was getting a lot of information from Khan as part of the "conditional pardon".

"And it's important to note that the amnesty he was given is a conditional one, meaning he has to meet conditions of the amnesty, which means full and open disclosure, and we're learning a lot from that," Powell said.

First Published: Feb 27, 2004 15:01 IST