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If Pak's nukes are safe, why are scientists in detention?

If Pak's nukes are safe, why are scientists in detention?

Author:
Publication: The Times of India - Internet Edition
Date: December 6, 2001
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1540058531

If Pakistani officials insist loudly their nuclear secrets are safe from terrorists, they talk in whispers about two of their top nuclear scientists who have been detained for weeks.

Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Abdul Majeed, who retired from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) three years ago, are currently being held by military intelligence officials in an undisclosed location.

No formal charges have been filed against the pair, who have been held for the better part of five weeks. But officials said they were being investigated for possible links to terror suspect Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda movement.

"They are detained to probe the extent of their involvement and links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda," said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The case has drawn considerable international attention, coming at a time when Pakistan is under intense scrutiny as a possible source of nuclear material and expertise for terrorists.

And it demonstrates the sensitivity of the military regime in Islamabad to an issue that has become a priority for its new-found ally and potential benefactor, the United States.

Islamabad has reacted with increasing annoyance to repeated questions being raised over how secure those nuclear assets are. "There is an excellent command and control system in place that we have evolved and there is no question of their falling into the hands of any fundamentalist," said President Pervz Musharraf.

With nerves on edge following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Pakistani officials are keeping a tight lid on the case of the two scientists.
(AFP)
 


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