Father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, Abdul Qadeer Khan, on Wednesday admitted to transferring nuclear technology to several countries and absolved successive Pakistani governments of any responsibility for proliferation of nuclear technology, saying the illegal transfer of nuclear know-how had taken place at his behest.
"There was never ever any kind of authorisation for these activities by the government. I take full responsibility for my actions and seek your pardon," he said in a statement read out on state television.
"I have much to answer for. The investigations have established that many of the reported activities did occur and these were inevitably initiated at my behest...I was confronted with the evidence and findings and I have voluntarily admitted that much of it is true and accurate.
"I have chosen to appear before you to offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a traumatised nation,"
Without naming the countries to whom he supplied nuclear technology, Khan said it pained him that his entire lifetime of achievement of providing foolproof national security to the nation could have been seriously jeopardised on account of his activities.
"These activities relating to unauthorised proliferation were based in good faith but on error of judgement," he said.
Khan also sought to bail out several of his fellow scientists and officials of the Khan Research Laboratories, the country's premier nuclear installation, saying they acted in good faith.
Pakistan has so far interrogated nine scientists and officials and many are still in custody.
In an apparent reference to the nationwide strike called by the Islamist alliance Mutahida Majlis Amal to protest the interrogation of scientists, Khan appealed to the people not to politicise the issue of national security.