SC allows Dr AQ Khan to appear before court tomorrow

The nuclear physicist's petition seeks enforcement of his basic rights, including of free movement

Hasnaat Malik May 12, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday allowed the country's nuclear physicist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan to appear before the top court tomorrow (Wednesday) to hear his petition seeking enforcement of his fundamental rights, including right to free movement across the country.

The two-judge bench of the apex court presided over by Justice Mushir Alam took up a petition filed by Dr Khan through his counsel Taufiq Asif.

Dr AQ Khan had filed an appeal in the top court against the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) September 25, 2019 judgement that had rejected a similar plea of his on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction in view of special security measures taken by the state for his protection.

Dr AQ Khan demands action against ‘perjuring officials’

The top court had also rejected the plea of the defence ministry’s counsel to hear the case in camera.

During today’s hearing, the bench wondered as to how the petitioner first approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC), and later went to the LHC on the same subject.

Justice Yahya Afridi asked the petitioner's counsel that it could have been better to approach the IHC again.

Dr Khan’s counsel prayed upon the judge that the petitioner is a national hero, as it is a matter of human rights, the apex court can thereafter exercise its power under Article 189 of the constitution.

“The petitioner himself wanted to appear before the court,” the counsel said.

Upon this argument, the court allowed Dr Khan and adjourned the hearing until tomorrow.

The scientist stated in his petition that he was the pioneer of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, and it was owing to the untiring efforts of the people at the helm of the affairs that he had succeeded in making the country a nuclear power.

The petitioner said that he felt proud of having done his bit to secure Pakistan from the ‘evil eyes of [its] neighbours and other adversaries’.

The physicist furthered said that ever since he had come to Pakistan and started working on the nuclear project, he had enjoyed personal security befitting of his status. But now the situation was such that personnel of security agencies had stationed themselves in a house next door to make sure no one had access to him, he claimed.

Dr Khan was not allowed to move around, attend social or academic functions within the country without the prior approval of security authorities, the petition stated, adding that “this situation amounted to the petitioner being kept in virtual confinement”.

LHC directs Dr AQ Khan to approach Islamabad court

“This act of security authorities is illegal since no such order has been conveyed to me warranting the treatment being meted out to me now,” Dr Khan said.

Dr Khan said that this predicament began in January 2004 when he had been put under house arrest under the pretext of security.

He said he had did not have access to any friend, so much so that his daughter and her children living a few houses away could not meet him, adding that the restrictions were so bad that he could not even access the court.