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I faced a dilemma pardoning Khan: Musharraf

Source: PTI
February 09, 2004 11:21 IST
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Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that he faced a dilemma while pardoning country's top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan who supplied nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

But he defended his decision to pardon Khan. Responding to questions by NBC that the pardon was a complete 'whitewash', Musharraf said, "I disagree with it absolutely. One must understand reality. There's an international perception. There's a domestic perception."      

"There's a person involved who's a hero because of what he's done for us. He's hero -- he was a hero even for me.  And here's a person who's brought the deterrence -- given us deterrence, potential in the unconventional field. So this certainly is a very, very sensitive issue."

"Now he did something that could hurt the nation. I was in a dilemma, certainly. The dilemma is: 'he's a great man, he's a hero and he's a hero of every individual on the street.

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Yet he has done something, which could bring harm to the nation. Now how to deal with it?' We had to handle it very carefully," he said.

On Afghanistan, Musharraf said he would support the deployment of US troops near the Pakistani border to turn up the pressure on al Qaeda but stressed American forces hunting al Qaeda and Taliban fighters will not be allowed to cross into Pakistan.

"I have been all along saying that there's a vacuum in Afghanistan, which we have to fill in the countryside," he said. "So I'm for increasing strength there."

US troops are not needed in Pakistan's side of the border because al Qaeda members hiding there 'are not in such strength that a whole operation, a massive operation has to be launched', he said.

"And we have developed a very effective, quick reaction force," Musharraf said. "So that is what is required and we are capable of doing all of that."

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