Islamabad - A Pakistani court on Monday removed government restrictions on disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and allowed him to travel within the country to meet relatives but asked his not to give interviews on proliferation.
Khan, who is still regarded as a national hero for spearheading Pakistan's nuclear programme, gave a series of telephone interviews in recent months, lending credence to the view that the blame for proliferation goes to the army which controls the nuclear programme.
He confessed on state television on February 4, 2004, to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, and was pardoned the next day by President Pervez Musharraf but put under house arrest at his sprawling bungalow in an upmarket neighbourhood of Islamabad.
Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Sardar Mohammad Aslam in his verdict on Monday said: "Dr AQ Khan will be allowed to meet his close relatives and friends subject to security clearance and necessary precautions and measures taken in regard to his security and safety which is of paramount importance."
However, according to the court ruling, Khan "will not convey, transmit, relay and comment or give interview on any channel, news reporter, print or electronic media in any manner whatsoever in respect of the issue of proliferation."
Khan's counsel, Javed Iqbal Jaffery, told reporters outside the courtroom that there were certain drawbacks of the verdict. "I will be filing an application to reconsider parts of this decision, maybe tomorrow," he said.
According to Jaffery, the court had given "some relief" to the nuclear scientist, but the admission to incarceration of Khan was "very critical."
"The court has certainly given tangible relief to Dr Qadeer (Khan) and that is reflecting the aspirations of the people of Pakistan," government lawyer Ahmer Bilal Sufi said while talking to English-language DawnNews television channel.
In his initial comments given to DawnNews on the ruling, Khan said he would not accept any decision that validated the deployment of guards around him and strict security checks for his visitors.
DawnNews cited the scientist as saying that he wanted to be a free man with the liberty to travel as he likes. (dpa)
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