Foreign Policy Blogs

The AQ Khan Rehabilitation Tour: Part 56

The AQ Khan Rehabilitation Tour: Part 56


The world’s worst nuclear proliferator in the modern era is at it again, this time deigning to organize a political party in Pakistan.  In an interview with Simon Henderson at Foreign Policy, Khan discusses his ambitions with the recent formation of the Movement for the Protection of Pakistan — or Tehreek Tahaffuze Pakistan (TTP) in Urdu.  According to Khan, the TTP was conceived as an organization that will back “worthy candidates” in the country’s upcoming national assembly elections.  Khan plans to travel around the country with his roving band of sycophants identifying and lauding promising candidates for the upcoming Pakistani election.  Obviously the plan and its goal are worthy.  The irony is that Khan himself continues to cling to the illusion of his moral rectitude and that he is the savior of his country.

The interview and Khan’s aspirations are nothing new: They once again underscore his perpetual delusion at what he believes to be his morally defensible actions in spreading nuclear technologies to countries that should not have access to them in order to right some global wrong.

To wit, in response to a question from Henderson regarding the ongoing energy shortages in Pakistan, Khan characterizes himself as “a competent and experienced engineer and scientist.”  He conveniently left out the phrase “morally bankrupt.”

Khan also sees fit to bad mouth former military dictator and President Pervez Musharraf, who certainly deserves to be taken down a number of pegs for a great many transgressions.  But, in another pique of irony, Khan criticizes Musharraf for providing “all our highly classifiedand secret information to the USA, the UK, Japan, the IAEA, etc. and sent invaluable centrifuge samples to the USA and the IAEA. He even gave them centrifuge drawings worth billions of dollars just to gain their patronage. Forthat he is a traitor.”  Behold, dear readers.  The “Mohsin-e-Pakistan” (Saviour of Pakistan) speaks. What he fails to acknowledge, as he runs down the list of alleged proliferation abuses by the U.S., the U.K and others, is that those countries created the global nonproliferation infrastructure that he actively sidestepped for nearly twenty years.

I wish now to use a phrase gleaned from my years of Anglophilia:  gobsmacked.

In being asked if he regrets all those years of illegally smuggling nuclear technology to rogue states, Khan asks how he can possibly be “….an enemy of any Western country? I seek mutually respectful, friendly relations with all, sanctity of our sovereignty, non-participation in mercenary activities or allowing our country to be used for terrorism, either from within or from outside. This is my dream.”

To add insult to injury, Khan also compares himself to…wait for it…Nelson Mandela.  Khan was responding to a question by Henderson in which he asks about his political ambitions.  He characterizes himself as “just a guide” advising on good governance.  Indeed.  And Atilla the Hun was just tidying up Europe a bit.



Jodi Lieberman

Jodi Lieberman is a veteran of the arms control, nonproliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear safety trenches, having worked at the Departments of State, Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has also served in an advisory capacity and as professional staff for several members of Congress in both the House and Senate as well as the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Jodi currently spends her time advocating for science issues and funding as the Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the American Physical Society. The views expressed in her posts are her views based on her professional experience but in way should be construed to represent those of her employer.