Taliban may kidnap AQ Khan for ransom: Pak editorial

     An editorial has suggested that Taliban may try to kidnap the disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr.Abdul Qadeer Khan for a hefty ransom, which is said to be the prime reason behind resumption of security restrictions on him. While many believe that it was sustained US pressure because of which the government is forced to retain the restrictions on Dr. Khan, an editorial in a leading Pakistan daily suggested that the father of country's nuclear program is under severe threat from the Taliban. According to The Daily Times editorial, the Taliban could abduct Dr.Khan, who is considered as one of the greatest nuclear proliferators of all time, and demand a price that it has never received in ransom. The editorial stated that Taliban would not only demand ransom from Islamabad, but also from the United States, which has been pushing Pakistan to hand over Dr. Khan for interrogations. "The ransom will be demanded not only from Pakistan but from the US as well! And he will go to the highest bidder. Even in normal circumstances, Dr Khan would be a very attractive victim, but given Islamabad's security, he is under more threat than any other person living in the country," the editorial said. In January 2004, Khan confessed to having been involved in a clandestine international network of nuclear weapons technology proliferation from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea. On February 5, 2004, President General Pervez Musharraf, announced that he had pardoned Dr. Khan as he was a national hero. In an August 23, 2005 interview with Kyodo News, Musharraf confirmed that Khan had supplied gas centrifuges and gas centrifuge parts to North Korea and, possibly, an amount of uranium hexafluoride gas. Khan came under scrutiny following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. and the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan to oust the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It emerged that al-Qaeda had made repeated efforts to obtain nuclear weapons materials to build either a radiological bomb or a crude nuclear bomb. In late October 2001, the Pakistani government arrested three Pakistani nuclear scientists, all with close ties to Khan, for their suspected connections with the Taliban. The Bush administration continued to investigate Pakistani nuclear weapons proliferation, ratcheting up the pressure on the Pakistani government in 2001 and 2002 and focusing on Khan's personal role. He has been under house arrest since February 2004.

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