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AQ Khan 'elected' Pakistan's 'president'

Khan was elected the country's president, defeating the incumbent, Pervez Musharraf, in a mock poll held by lawyers.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Lahore
UPDATED ON AUG 19, 2007 07:37 PM IST

Abdul Qader Khan, the detained scientist who pioneered Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, was "elected" the country's president, defeating the incumbent, Pervez Musharraf, in a mock poll held by lawyers.

Musharraf received only one vote and Khan, whom he has placed under detention since January 2004, got 2,103 votes in the "presidential referendum" organised by the Save Judiciary Committee of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA).

Daily Times newspaper did not give details of the people behind the "referendum", but said the balloting started at 9 am and continued till 2 pm on Saturday.

The lawyers' body was in the forefront of the recent agitation triggered by Musharraf's sacking of the country's chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.

While Chaudhry, reinstated in July, is perceived as having emerged as a national hero, Khan has enjoyed this iconic status for over two decades as the man behind Pakistan's "Islamic bomb".

Saying that "he is no longer my hero", Musharraf placed Khan under house arrest after being confronted by the CIA with evidence of the scientist's involvement in clandestine proliferation of nuclear designs and devices to Libya, Iran, North Korea and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda.

Khan's continued popularity was, however, evident when he was moved to Karachi for medical treatment and flowers and bouquets were placed outside the hospital.

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