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The Emancipation of Khan

February 10, 2009

Know this man?


He is the father of the “Islamic Bomb,” an epithet used to describe the Pak nuclear program. Also equally famous for his house arrest by Musharraf in 2004–after US and Western intelligence sources claimed Khan was masterminding a nuclear technology black market.

Here’s A. Q. Khan on the cover of Time.


Quite a caricature, no?

In any case, Khan’s clients–that is, the recipients of nuclear secrets–were the governments and nuclear programs of Libya, North Korea, Iran (and possibly Syria).

However, all that is history. Khan is now a free man.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court set him free. And although Khan had confessed in 2004 to his acts of nuclear smuggling, he insists that he did so only under pressure.

In fact, last year, Khan had actually retracted this confession and stated that he was forced by Musharraf to confess for the sake of “national interest”.

If you ask me, doesn’t seem unlikely that some level of scapegoating may have been taken place with Khan.

That is to say that he was made the scapegoat of a larger involvement of the state and army, and maybe, Mushy.

When journalists asked the freed Khan how he felt about the international community’s hostile response to his emancipation, he said:

Let them talk. Are they happy with our God? Are they happy with our Prophet?

What Bush says or what Dick Cheney says…I don’t damn care.

Interesting, Khan doesn’t seem to consider that Obama may object as well.

From a Pak blogger:

Like it or lump it, the Pak Nuclear project is perhaps what avoided a more hairy encounter between India and Pakistan after 26/11.  And AQ Khan is worshipped by the people because of his contribution to strengthening the nation.

Worship? That’s shirk, mind you.

And, bida’a.

But in all seriousness, the Pak-US relations seem too confusing to make sense of. I read this book on Khan and the nuclear black market while in grad school. If what the authors argue is true, and the US did sort of turn a blind eye to the Pak Nuclear Program, and then allowed the scapegoating of Khan to protect Musharraf and the state–I have to ask, but why?

I don’t get the impression that the US ever had a lot of faith in Mushy’s ability to curb the jihadis of the Pakistani Wild West. And I always wonder what sort of relations Mushy nurtured that saved his ass time after time. Maybe it was the Karachi middle-parting of the hair?


Is it me, or do all Karachi boys middle part their hair (ala Rameez Raja, Shahid Afridi, and at one point even Wasim Akram)?

Not to mention almost every other kid from KGS I’ve met who sport such hair.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2009 2:58 pm

    DR.qadir was not involved in all this.

  2. fug permalink
    February 16, 2009 5:59 pm

    Oh what big fonts you’ve got Grandma.

    He’s not worshipped, more appreciated for improving that cou try’s national security. For contributing to perhaps the only project post partition that developed pakistans technological mojo. It must give them a lot of self-confidence to copy WW2 bombmaking techniques.

    In my opinion, nuclear defence strangely makes more sense than nuclear power. Both are deeply influenced by todays techno-hegemony.
    I only hope those overpriviledged (wrt any other discipline) mili-bods have sorted out surface to air defence.

    Who’d second guess Obama (who appointed him boss of the world anyway?), but maybe proliferation takes second priority to af/pak ‘stability’ now?

  3. February 16, 2009 7:00 pm

    Sorry for being daft, Fug, but isn’t nuclear defense the goal for any nuclearization project? Unless you buy Ahmadinejad’s line?

  4. fug permalink
    February 16, 2009 7:15 pm

    For me, huge centralised energy production can be relied upon to bugger up through transmission and corruption, especially in decolonising societies.

    Chack this, one third of the energy that a power station will ever produce, is needed to create the darned things.

    I am unashamedly two-faced wrt energy and environment. Western countries need to eat less to give eastern and southern ones more time to sort themselves out, solidify and adapt.

    Iran’s ulama have judged nuclear weaponry haram. Maybe they have other ambitions for their energy policy, thats their policy sovereignty issue. I have no reason to doubt Iran, nor any interests in painting them as a security threat against the interests of the US in the region. Look….. they launched a satelite and have higher end islamic discourse going on. Their mojo is apparent in other ways.

    Nuclearisation is also useful for building scientific capital, which is useful in all sectors. Bangladesh has no plan for a bomb, just a compliant peaceful posture, insufficient economic resources and institutional stability.

  5. February 17, 2009 9:47 am

    “Iran’s ulama have judged nuclear weaponry haram”


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