Khan to Musharraf: Let’s make a deal

Hmm, your former employer has made you a patsy, fired you from your job, hung you out to dry, and ruined your reputation. What do you? Well, if you are former CBS anchor man Dan Rather, you do what any red blooded American would do. You hire a lawyer and sue the bastards.

And if it is good enough for Dan Rather, it is good enough for Dr Khan. That brings us to today’s news; that Dr Khan has decided to challenge his house-arrest in the Supreme Court and hired the services of two top Islamabad lawyers in this regard. Khan is said to have asked his lawyers in Islamabad to prepare the petition as he thought that he was detained without any trial and that the government had failed to establish his crimes in a court of law.

Interestingly, according to new reports (Pakistani AVT Khyber TV, September 19 and Indo-Asian News Service, September 19), in the petition to be filed by Dr Khan in the Supreme Court President Gen Pervez Musharraf would be directly accused of detaining him as well as backing out of the promises he had made [with Dr Khan]. Khan says the military strongman has backed out on promises he had allegedly made while seeking his favour to confess to his crimes in a televised address, to save Pakistan from dangers to its existence. Zafar Khokhar, a former attorney general of Pakistan, claimed that Khan was told by the government that he needed to offer sacrifice… to save the country a second time, as he had done earlier, by helping Pakistan develop nuclear technology.

Evidently, this is coming some concern. Reportedly, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s advisor on science, Attaur Rehman, has secretly met Khan at his residence to stop him from moving to court. Rehman confirmed Tuesday that he had met Khan recently at his residence. But he denied that his meeting with the nuclear scientist was part of the government attempt to stop him from moving the court. He termed it a personal meeting with an old friend.

Of course, what I and everyone else want to know is, assuming Khan is telling the truth, what exactly, was he promised? And what leverage might he have that would make him confident of winning in trial? This would be a good time to remember what Gordon Corera wrote in his excellent book, Shopping for Bombs:

The question remained: What to do about Khan? There were incessant meetings on the subject between top officials. It was not a simple matter. The United States and UK had been promised that if anyone broke any laws they would be prosecuted. But prosecution was not a pleasant thought for the Pakistani government. A public trial could be a disaster and because of Pakistan’s weak export control laws it wasn’t immediately obvious what Khan could even be charged with apart from perhaps violating the Official Secrets Act. Khan had so many supporters that it could destabilize the government. There was also the crucial question of what information Khan had on senior military figures. Khan could not be put on trial, nor could he be handed over to the Americans without fear of everything being revealed. The remaining option was for Khan to confess publicly, admit guilt, and take full and sole responsibility for his actions, saving the state and military from any embarrassment. In return he would be saved from worse fate. A deal had to be struck.

An old friend of Khan’s, former law minister Senator SM Zafar, was brought in to negotiate the final deal over the last two days. Zafar, whose advancing years and receding hairline hide a razor sharp mind, had defended Khan in his court case in the Netherlands in the 1980s; he visited Khan at his house in Islamabad. Khan appeared depressed, tense, and nervous, clearly unsure of his fate. Khan said he was being accused but those accusing him were in part responsible for the misdeeds. But the deal was clear. Confess, say nothing more, and there will be a pardon. He was told that he should reveal everything because if new information later emerged he would be held responsible.

Khan agreed to sign a twelve-page confession, known officially as the First Information Report, which has never been made public. [p 208]

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