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A Q Khan too popular: Kasuri
February 10, 2004 22:56 IST
Nobody in Pakistan can "touch" Abdul Qadeer Khan -- the scientist pardoned by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf after he admitted to have leaked nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea -- because he is a national hero, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri has said.
"Imagine an American government doing this to Charles Lindbergh [the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic] or Albert Einstein, at the height of his popularity. Dr A Q Khan is that kind of national hero in Pakistan," Kasuri told The Washington Post.
"Khan's original nuclear larceny gave us strategic balance," Kasuri said.
He said Pakistani public opinion had made it impossible for Musharraf to impose legal penalties on Khan.
"Look, we knew we would be accused of knuckling under pressure to the Americans. We are not doing that. The Pakistani people must understand that there will be no nuclear rollback. We have scheduled new missile tests to make that point.
"We are a declared nuclear power and the world must accept it. We are, however, taking steps to control our nuclear assets more carefully and halt proliferation," he said.
Kasuri claimed that "we were devastated" on coming to know about Khan's activities.
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