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Umar Cheema
Thursday, September 19, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: As foolproof security arrangements of nuclear installations are already in place, the Defence Ministry has tripled the security of the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan amid fears of a repeat of the Abbottabad raid which killed Osama bin Laden.

 

Other than extraordinary security deployment at his residence, Dr AQ Khan is now accorded protocol almost equal to that of prime minister when he travels.

 

Dr AQ Khan confirmed increase in the security personnel. Although, he was told that deployment had been carried out keeping in view the country’s situation, sources privy to the decision confided to The News that it was intended to avert any Abbottabad-type raid as he has been on the US radar due to his alleged involvement in nuclear proliferation. He is in demand for questioning. “A repeat of Abbottabad-like incident would be a national shame for us,” said an official source explaining the reason behind the reinforcement.

 

There were around 40 personnel and two colonel-rank officers assigned on the security duty of Dr AQ Khan in the past that now has been increased to 120 personnel and four officers. Besides, a convoy of 10 vehicles escorts Dr Khan’s bulletproof jeep during his movement within Islamabad.

 

Likewise, no European and American is allowed to live in the surroundings of Dr Khan’s residence, however, Arab nationals can rent an accommodation in the vicinity but after securing security clearance from the Interior Ministry, said an official source.

 

Other than police, Kahuta Research Laboratory’s rapid response force as well as elite force has also been deployed to safeguard Dr Khan in addition to intelligence officials.

 

As Dr Khan moves within Islamabad, a police vehicle leads the convoy followed by two jeeps of rapid response force and one vehicle of elite force. One vehicle of rapid response force runs parallel on the left side of Dr Khan’s jeep, two such vehicles with jammers installed on the rear side followed by yet another rapid response force vehicle, two double-cabins of police and one vehicle carrying intelligence staff at the tail end of the convoy.

 

Before Dr Khan reaches a destination, intelligence staff conducts a check and then it is taken over by the police deployed for his security. Security staff is also equipped with 40-45 AK rifles when he is out to visit a place. Given the increase in security staff, a neighbouring house has been rented out to accommodate the staff in addition to a couple of containers parked there in order to use them for residential purpose of the staff.

 

As The News contacted Dr Khan for his version, he confirmed the extra deployment. “It is like death that comes uninvited,” he said commenting on the increase in security personnel, arguing that there had been no demand from his side. Asked about the reason described to him for this reinforcement, Dr Khan said he was told that the measures were taken keeping in view the overall security situation as the TTP had been attacking noted figures. He said he did not care about threats. However, officials aware of the reasons behind the decision said the deployment was carried out to pre-empt any Abbottabad-type raid.