Alex Constantine - January 10, 2011
" ... The Americans themselves sold us all kinds of computers for our use in Kahuta as well as electronic components, equipment, inverters, valves, leak detectors, materials and other nuclear-specific things. ... "
I THE ROAD TO THE BOMB
When did you make the decision to found an atomic program with a view to building an atom bomb for your nation and what was your motivation?
After India exploded its so-called "peaceful" nuclear bomb in 1974, I felt it to be imperative that Pakistan should have a similar programme. In this connection I wrote a letter to Mr. Bhutto, who invited me to come to Pakistan to discuss the matter with him. I met him in December 1974 while we were visiting Pakistan over the Christmas/New Year holidays. Before the Indian nuclear test of 18th May Bhutto said: "We will eat grass, we will go hungry if India makes the bomb". Mr. Bhutto was pivotal to our nuclear programme. Without his go-ahead, full support and giving me full freedom of action, nothing would have materialized.
During the course of my work for the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory (FDO) in Holland I gained the necessary expertise regarding the enrichment of uranium by the centrifuge method. Other necessary information and technical resources were procured from the suppliers. Lots of useful information was already available in published literature. In this kind of programme, the fissile material is the main thing. The rest is not so difficult.
Why did you suddenly leave Holland in December 1975?
Officially Pakistan's nuclear programme was started at the beginning of 1975. After my initial discussions with Mr. Bhutto, the (Pakistani) Atomic Energy Commission was asked to start building the necessary infrastructure while I returned to Holland to my job. When I visited Pakistan in December 1975 I realized that nothing worthwhile had been achieved and a whole year had been wasted. Having reported this to Mr. Bhutto, he requested that I resign from my job and remain in Pakistan to lead the programme. After consulting with my wife and family, the decision was taken to comply with this request. I did not leave Holland suddenly. We came to Pakistan every year to spend the Christmas/New Year holidays here. What was sudden was my decision not to go back.
During your work with FDO you had privileged access to the most restricted areas of the facility as well as to documentation on the gas centrifuge technology. An investigation by the Dutch authorities found that you had passed highly classified material to a network of Pakistani intelligence agents. Was this done on your own initiative or did the Pakistani government suggest/tell you to do this?
I'm afraid your information is incorrect. If one reads the Parliamentary Report issued by the Dutch government on this topic, one sees that I was never suspected of any wrongdoing. Certain orders were placed by Pakistan in that period which indicated that an enrichment programme had been initiated, but these were all for non-classified equipment and/or materials, information for which was obtainable from the open market. The case that was initiated against me in Holland was for writing 2 letters from Pakistan to ex-colleagues requesting specific information which, according to the Public Prosecutor at that time, was of a secret nature. The case was quashed on procedural matters but the right of appeal was not utilized by the Dutch government because a) I had obtained 7 affidavits from world-reknown professors and scientists confirming that the information in question had been in the public domain for decades and b) the letters in question had been written nearly 10 years earlier and were no longer relevant. The reason for my requesting the information was that there were no scientific libraries containing books on this subject in Pakistan at the time and my own library and household goods had not yet arrived. Furthermore, one should remember that I had worked on that specific subject and was therefore asking for information which I had perfected. It should also be noted that I went to Holland many times after that to visit my parents-in-law, the last time being in July 1992, with the full knowledge and permission of the Dutch authorities. Would that have been possible if I had done anything wrong?
When did you realize that you had enough knowledge and information to build the bomb?
One never has enough knowledge or information on one's own to start a project and bring it to completion. The knowledge I had gained referred to the enrichment of uranium, not to the building of a bomb. From my past experience I knew who the suppliers were and I also knew that, being businessmen, they were willing to sell whatever was required. Later on, export laws became much more stringent and embargoes were put in place. The making of the device itself was a totally different field. I had gathered a team of competent engineers and scientists and when Gen. Zia instructed us to do the job, we managed to do so in 2 years.
Could you describe your feelings on May 28th, 1998, when Pakistan successfully tested its first atom bomb and you became a national hero?
The feeling that anyone has who has just seen the accomplishment of years of hard work. However, that feeling was not mine alone. It was shared by the whole team that had been built up, without whom nothing would have been possible, and by the nation as a whole. Not only was it the first time that something of this nature had been achieved in Pakistan, but it also ensured the existence and sovereignty of the country.
Looking back, what was the most difficult period on the path to the atom bomb?
I would not like to mention a specific period, even though the embargoes placed on us did make things more difficult, but difficulties are there only to be overcome. What I found most difficult during the course of my work was the professional jealousy, rumours and active antagonism from some quarters within the country. That is, of course, not speaking of all that has happened over the past 5 years.
II. DR. KHAN'S CONFESSION
On February 4th 2004 you admitted that you passed atomic secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. What was the motivation for this transfer?
I am afraid I am unable to answer this question as the Islamabad High Court has passed a judgement forbidding me to speak on such matters. I can only say that I did nothing wrong and whatever I did was done in good faith and in the national interest.
There has been a lot of speculation that you have sold parts and blueprints for a nuclear weapon. What exactly have you sold? And to whom?
Because of the court order, I am not in a position to reply to this question. Let me only say that I never SOLD anything to anyone.
In October 2003 a freighter loaded with nuclear material was stopped on its way to Libya. Thereafter Libya gave up its secret nuclear program. Among the documents the Libyans handed over to the IAEA, the Agency found blueprints for a nuclear weapon. They were packed in two shopping bags of "Good Looks Fabrics and Tailors", your personal tailor in Islamabad. There are reports in books and media stating that agents of the Pakistani Secret Service ISI saw you in 2000 carrying two shopping bags of "Good Looks Fabrics and Tailors" into an airplane from Islamabad to Dubai. There they observed how you carried the bags in a hotel and delivered them to some men of Arabian origin. What was in those bags you carried to Dubai? And who were the men to whom you delivered the bags to?
I have had many safari suits made from Good Looks Tailors. They were delivered to me in 4-foot long zipper bags with a see-through panel in the front. Many of these suits I took to Dubai with me, but I NEVER carried them by hand. They were always put in my suitcase and left at the apartment in Dubai where I had one room for my use. Is carrying a clothing bag such an unusual event, even had it taken place, that it should be noticed by ISI agents? If they knew about the bags, wouldn't they also be able to find out to whom they were given? If I was carrying such sensitive documents, would it not have made more sense to carry them in a briefcase, sports bag or such like? If we read the book "DECEPTION - Pakistan, the U.S. and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons" written by Adrian Levy & Catherine Scott-Clark we see on page 375: "......In the early hours of 12 December 2003, as the M16-CIA team walked out to their unmarked plane at Tripoli airport, Libyan officials rushed on to the tarmac. They handed over half a dozen brown envelopes. Inside one were blueprints for a nuclear bomb. Another contained instructions on how to manufacture and assemble a device". Then on page 383, the authors write: "In a bizarre ceremony that took place in a meeting room of the Libyan National Board of Scientific Research in late January 2004, 'Triple M' emerged with all of the nuclear warhead blueprints, schematics and manuals that Libya had bought from Pakistan. He handed them over to the IAEA, stuffed into a plastic bag emblazoned with the logo of a well-known Islamabad gentleman's outfitter - Good Looks Fabrics and Tailors". If we are talking about FACTUAL events, would there be such disparity in the handing over of such important information?
The statement was prepared by the SPD and thrust into my hands to read. I immediately realised that it was mischievous to put all the blame solely on me. The Attorney General, Makhdoom Ali Khan, who was present, had the statement saved on his laptop. I refused to read it out as it was and insisted that the words "I did it in good faith" be inserted. These words carried a lot of weight and meaning to the whole world. One doesn't do anything wrong "in good faith". This saved my reputation, as was later reiterated in an article by Mr. Roedad Khan.
Is it true that the script originally stated the words "error of judgement" but you exchanged them with "in good faith"?
Yes, that is correct. I changed them because the two phrases have totally different meanings. "In good faith" meant that what I had done was with the conviction that I was not doing anything wrong. Later statements on TV by former army chief, Gen.(R) Aslam Beg, Gen. Faiz Ali Chishti, Gen. Hamid Gul, Gen. Abdul Qayum, Mr. Ch. Shujaat Hussain, former Law Minister, Mr. S.M. Zafar and a former Secretary General of the Interior Minister, Mr. Roedad Khan, that I had not done anything wrong, clearly vindicated my position.
On October 16, 2008 you wrote in a letter to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that Pervez Musharraf had forced you to take the responsibility of nuclear proliferation on state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) in the name of national interest. You wrote that you were told that "we are doing this only to show to the Americans" and that you would be free after three to four months. Why do you think this promise was broken?
Because he was a characterless dictator acting under threats from Armitage, Bush, etc. and because he was afraid of what I might reveal. That is also the reason behind the Islamabad High Court's decision prohibiting me from talking about any nuclear matters or my subsequent debriefing. Gen.(R) Kidwai, DG SPD and his wife came to see us in April 2004 and told me that everything would be over in 3 to 4 months, after which I would be able to lead a normal life. That turned out to be a blatant lie. Now, 5 years later, I am still under house arrest…I was made a scapegoat by Gen.(R) Musharraf. Many former generals and civilian authorities have openly said on TV that I did not do anything wrong. I was not involved in any unauthorized activities and there NEVER EVER was a question of money-making.
Talking to journalists last July your counsel, Iqbal Jaffrey, urged the government to amicably resolve Dr. Khan's issue, otherwise several "dignitaries" would be exposed and it would open up a Pandora's Box. What "dignitaries" did he mean and what would be the content that would expose them?
Only Mr. Jaffrey could answer that question completely. I guess he meant that the truth could hurt many people and the government and prove that they were not as innocent as they were claiming to be.
Your case has not yet been resolved amicably by the government. Do you see any chance that this will happen in the near future under the Zardari government? What will you next action be in order for this to happen?
At present my lawyer has initiated a case in the Islamabad High Court on my behalf. Let's wait and see what happens.
Do you consider talking to representatives of the IAEA sometime in the future? Pakistan was not, and is not, a signatory to the NPT, so why should Pakistan be answerable to them?
In an interview with Al Hayat Newspaper on 8th January 2008, Mohammed Al-Bradei, director of IAEA said: "He (Khan) admitted to being part of the nuclear network and we conducted numerous interviews with most of its members. Many of them were part of a commercial enterprise, but I believe that Khan had ideological motives. He believed that he succeeded in neutralizing the Indian program by launching the Pakistani program as a parallel to the Indian program. He was trying to repeat the same success between the Israeli program and other Arab and Islamic programs." Can you comment on this statement?
The Libyans and the Iranians had their own programs and motives.
Naturally, if they had had nuclear weapons, Israel would not have been occupying Arab lands for 40 years and killing Palestinians armed only with stones. Is it all right for the Israelis to have nuclear weapons but not for their neighbours to have the same? Allow me to point out that the IAEA/CIA never conducted any interviews with any Pakistani scientists from KRL. As far as Pakistan's nuclear program was concerned, it was not a question of ideology, but a question of survival and saving the dignity of the country. No people on earth have suffered so much torture, death and destruction as the Palestinians. If the US, UK, France, etc. had been serious about the matter, it could have been solved within a matter of weeks, but they didn't want it solved. They wanted the same to happen to us at the hands of the Indians.
Why do you think the US has a specific nuclear agreement with India?
Their designs were frustrated by our nuclear capability, hence I became the bad guy - the spoiler.
On several occasions you have stated that you have no doubts why you and Pakistan have been singled out for international condemnation. You mentioned two reasons: a) because Muslims were the only religion that threatened Western civilization; and b) because you broke the monopoly of the West. Can you explain in more detail?
I still stand by those two statements. Yes, Muslims had shaken the very foundations of Western civilisation through their exemplary character, equality, absence of any discrimination, simple way of life and a clear, easily understandable message through the Quran providing a complete code of life. This was the basis of the Crusades. Unfortunately, as George Bernard Shaw (a famous British writer) said, Islam was the best religion, but the Muslims were the worst followers. Fundamentalism and fanaticism were adopted by a minority and soon distorted the image of Islam.
Yes, the Western world, especially the USA, could never ever have considered the possibility that a backward, Muslim country like Pakistan, which could not even produce bicycle chains, ordinary ball bearings, sewing needles or durable roads, was able to make a breakthrough in the most advanced and complicated technology of uranium enrichment. It also meant the end to their ability to blackmail us. Unfortunately, there is a general hatred, consciously or unconsciously, against Muslims in the Christian world. We all saw how almost 250,000 innocent people were murdered in Bosnia before the eyes of "civilized" Christians. For 60 years Palestinians are being killed with no protest from the Christian world. One million Iraqi Muslims have been murdered under false and fabricated accusations of possessing weapons of mass destruction. More than a million Afghans have been killed without any tangible proof of their involvement in 9/11. However, when Indonesia tried to suppress the Christians of East Timor, the whole Christian world forced it to give up its independence. Even more unfortunate is the fact that almost the whole blame for most of these events goes to the corrupt, spineless Muslim rulers for not standing up to these injustices. One month's oil embargo could force the USA and the Western World to enforce an equitable solution in Palestine, but 8 years of rule by Pres. Reagan, 4 years of Pres. Bush the elder, 8 years of Pres. Clinton and 8 years of Pres. Bush the younger have passed with promises of a Palestinian Homeland without anything materializing. The aim all along has been to allow Israel to build more settlements and occupy more Palestinian land. This attitude can be traced back to Muslim conquests of Eastern Europe, Spain, etc. The spirit of the Crusades has never died. It always appears in one form or another against Muslims. I am a moderate Muslim, have a European wife, don't hate or profess against Western countries or Christianity, but I can't shut my eyes to what has happened in the past and is still happening today to Muslims and Islamic countries. I lived in Europe for 15 years and received higher education there and nobody can accuse me of having conservative or orthodox ideas.
III. THE TINNER CONNECTION
Among the firms you bought technology from for the Pakistani Nuclear Program were several Swiss companies. One of the major suppliers was the Swiss engineer Friedrich Tinner. When and through whom did you first meet Tinner? How important was the Tinner family (Friedrich and his sons Urs and Marco) for the success of the Pakistani Atomic Bomb Project?
I have known the Tinner family since October 1976. I first met Fred Tinner when we were placing orders with VAT (Vakuum-Apparate-Technik). He was a very competent engineer and a polite and friendly person. Later, after he had left VAT, he travelled to Pakistan quite often and our two families became friends. I am convinced that Fred Tinner never violated any Swiss export laws. Urs Tinner was working from Ajmaan (UAE) for his father. I did meet him a number of times but we did not have any direct business connections. The Tinners are an upright, honest family and it is malicious to try to make them seem otherwise. Fred Tinner was of importance to our Project due to the nature of the equipment he supplied.
What do you mean by: "We did not have any direct business connections"? What indirect business connections did you have with Urs Tinner?
I simply mean that I had no business connections with Urs Tinner. I was aware that he was doing business with others.
The Tinner case has caused big attention in the media. Nevertheless, even in their native country Switzerland, hardly anybody seems to know who the Tinners really are. As a long time acquaintance of the family, could you describe the characters and the professional skills of father Fred and sons Urs and Marco, as you know them?
I am not surprised that no-one really knows who the Tinners are because they were an ordinary, close-knit family, not standing out from any other family. My contacts with Fred Tinner date back to 1976. I found him to be extremely competent professionally and a nice human being. His sons, Urs and Marco, I met only a few times and did not know them well. I only know that they were close to their parents.
After the Tinners were arrested they admitted that they had cooperated with the CIA. They also spoke extensively to the IAEA. IAEA inspectors were subsequently able to uncover the network of the nuclear black market, many traces of which lead to you. When did you find out that the Tinners spied for the CIA?
I found out about this so-called cooperation from the press. Let me immediately state that I do not believe it. Their cooperation would be on the lines of answering questions at this time but not as in having passed on information to the CIA in a secretive manner. If they had done so, would the CIA really allow them to be questioned by the Swiss authorities? The Americans have a knack of portraying others of having done all the bad things, while they themselves are only good. The world at large knows differently.
Swiss investigators have struggled to piece together a complete picture of the Tinners' alleged activities within the so-called "Khan network" since their arrest four years ago. The task has been complicated by the fact that the Swiss government ordered thousands of files in the case to be destroyed last year citing national security concerns. Have you any idea what those files contained?
I have no idea about that, probably drawings and data on centrifuge machines, valves, feed and collection systems, process control software, etc. What seems to be overlooked is the fact that much of this information was/is available from other Western suppliers and was readily available to anyone willing to pay the price.
Do you have any idea why the Swiss government ordered the destruction of the documents, which is rather unique in this country?
If anyone destroys documents, it is either to protect himself (most likely reason) or to protect someone close to him. The destruction of documents by the Swiss government was definitely to protect themselves, not to save the Tinners. I believe the papers would most likely have vindicated the Tinners' position and mine, proving that there had been no wrongdoing. There were many suppliers from all over the world supplying all kinds of nuclear equipment and know-how, the names of whom the Americans did not want disclosed. They probably also wanted to protect their particular friends.
The Swiss Supreme Court told investigators last August to consider "within months" whether to set Urs and Marco Tinner free pending a possible trial. On December 21st Urs was released from prison after more than four years of investigative detention. What is your comment?
It is shameful how the Swiss government buckled under US pressure and imprisoned and harassed its own citizens while the Americans never raised a finger to point at those who were guilty of lying at the highest level and directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The Tinners never stole or obtained Swiss classified or secret information and/or passed it on to others. Switzerland had no such information. What they passed on was their own know-how and equipment.
If the Tinners are formally charged with breaking laws on the export of sensitive goods and money laundry, and their case goes to trial in Switzerland, are you 100 percent sure that no connection between you and the Tinners will be found concerning proliferation to third states?
My connection with Fred Tinner concerns only the supply of equipment to KRL. We bought what we needed from him. Why should he then involve me, and presumably have to pay me a middleman's share, when they have everything in hand themselves? I am convinced Tinner never violated any Swiss export laws. He was a careful and law-abiding citizen.
In his book "Dr. A.Q. Khan and the Islamic Bomb" Zahid Malik wrote (page 81/82): "America was very annoyed with Switzerland for supplying the most important equipment, i.e. the feed and collection system for uranium hexafluaride." Was that in reference to your order in 1977 of "1 Vakuumanlage fuer die Verdampfung und Sublimation von UF6" from VAT for approx. 7 Million Franks?
Yes, that was the first order for a Feed & Collection System. It was ordered from CORA, but by VAT, who then sold it to us with a charge for their services. The Americans later made a fuss. I think it was in 1981, when we placed orders with CORA. The first consignment of a Miniplant and a Microplant came, but a similar consignment was stopped (probably in 1982 or 1983) at the airport by the Swiss government under great US pressure.
What was the special value of Fred Tinner's products for establishing the Pakistani Nuclear Program in the 70s?
The special value lay in the fact that Fred Tinner for many years supplied Pakistan's program with all kinds of equipment and materials, legally and openly.
In the related documents of the Swiss National Archive there is no proof that Fred Tinner and VAT did anything illegal by exporting the requested material, but some Western powers at the time considered his business with Pakistan "irresponsible". The US and Great Britain put pressure on the Swiss government to stop such exports and eventually export controls were tightened. How did that complicate your work and the Pakistani Nuclear Program?
VAT/Tinner never broke any Swiss laws. Let me first point out the double standards applied by those who considered his business "irresponsible". Who were those powers? What right had they to judge? Were they not equally responsible in spreading nuclear technology to third parties? How is it right when one particular party is concerned and "irresponsible" when another party is concerned? The Americans themselves sold us all kinds of computers for our use in Kahuta as well as electronic components, equipment, inverters, valves, leak detectors, materials and other nuclear-specific things. I guess that is to be classified as "business" and not as "irresponsible behaviour".
The export controls instituted by the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, etc. did not delay or complicate our work. As mentioned in my article on 1/8/1986 (see Mr. Malik's book), we had acquired everything we needed by 1979 and from then on we manufactured everything ourselves and were totally self-sufficient by 1980. Some equipment was still sometimes ordered, either to save time or if we had other more important work to do. We still continued business with Tinner during the 80s.
When was the last time you visited Switzerland? And what was your impression of Switzerland and its citizens?
I don't remember the exact year, but it must have been some time in the late 80s. Switzerland is a beautiful country and whoever I came in contact with, I found to be honest, straightforward, competent and hard working. They are very hospitable and their cuisine is excellent.
In 1998 Urs Tinner moved to Dubai. What was his job there?
When Peter Griffin cheated Tahir in the procurement of materials and workshop machines, he (Tahir) requested Fred Tinner to send his son as he was a good mechanical engineer and Tahir had already met him a few times when Urs had visited Dubai.
Sri-Lankan born businessman Buhary Syed Abu Tahir is named by the United States and the IAEA as a middleman in an international nuclear trafficking ring. Of what nature was your cooperation with Tahir? What was the profile of his businesses in Dubai and later in Malaysia?
Tahir's uncle, Farook, was a friend of Abdus Salam, our supplier in England. When the British put pressure on him not to send things directly from England to us, he started sending goods to Dubai from where Farook forwarded them to us. Tahir was doing all our work in Farook's company. Later Tahir opened a computer shop and became agents for Epsom, Hewlett Packard, etc. His younger brother, Saeed Ibrahim, a civilian engineer and M.Sc. from the USA, ran the computer business. In 1991 or 1992 Farook cheated Tahir and fled to Singapore with all the money they had in their bank accounts. He later blackmailed Tahir. I never visited Tahir's Malaysian enterprise. I only know he had a factory there, co-owned by the Malaysian PM's son. They made large containers for milk, foodstuff, etc.
Tahir confessed having shipped nuclear material to Libya. According to the Malaysian Police (published in a Police report in February 2004) he claimed you asked him to send centrifuges to Iran in 1994 or 1995. How accurate are his statements printed in that report?
More or less correct except for a few things here and there. He is a very soft-spoken person and I believe that under pressure, threats and fear, he probably said whatever the Malaysian Police (read CIA/M16) wanted to hear to build their case. In judging these matters one should always keep in mind how the British and American top officials lied about Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Iran.
Not much is known in public about Marco Tinner. What kind of a person is he? How was he involved in business with you? What was his role in the family business?
To me Marco seemed a quiet, upright young man. He mostly dealt with the finances - seeing money was paid for the orders, goods were despatched on time, etc. He was not at all involved in any technical matters. He was not involved in any business deals with KRL, but later helped his father in the business with Tahir. I never personally found him suggesting anything wrong or in any way attempting to violate Swiss laws.
Marco Tinner is still in a Swiss prison. The Prosecutor General of the Swiss Confederation has objected to his release. He claims Marco might flee to Thailand. Allegedly there are blueprints of an atomic warhead stored on his wife's computer. How plausible does this sound to you?
I have no idea what he has in Thailand. Is his wife Thai? It seems unrealistic of the Swiss Prosecutor to claim this. If Marco were to flee to Thailand, the Thai government, being a puppet of the USA, would immediately hand him over to American or Swiss authorities. If the authorities claim to know that these blueprints are stored in his wife's computer, why have they not confiscated that computer? In short, it doesn't sound at all plausible to me.
In his first interview after his release from prison Urs Tinner told the Swiss National TV that Tahir had instructed him to scan files (allegedly because Tahir wanted to get rid of excessive paper work). During the scanning process the data was not only stored on Tahir's external hard disc but also on the hard disc of Urs Tinner's computer. This was, according to Urs Tinner, how he obtained the data that was later confiscated and destroyed in Switzerland. Were you aware of this copying process? Was this done at your orders?
I have no idea about this matter. If this was indeed the way things happened, it was not ethical of Urs Tinner to retain data that belonged to Tahir - either through dishonesty or foolishness. Such copying was definitely not done at my behest…. The rumours that I asked Urs to copy files from the apartment in Dubai in October 2003 are not true. No drawings were kept at the flat and there were no photocopying facilities there. I had one room in the flat for my use and kept some clothes and toiletries there.
IV. HOUSE ARREST AND DR. KHAN'S HEALTH
Since 2004 you have been under house arrest. Can you describe your daily routine? How extensive are your restrictions? What kind of communication have you been allowed over the years?
At the beginning of my house arrest, the health of my wife and myself immediately started deteriorating - i.e. high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, etc. It took us quite some time before we reached a certain re-adjustment to our new circumstances. Slowly we built up a new routine. For me it meant finding things to keep myself occupied, which I did by reading and walking in the garden. Since I am a very gregarious person, I found the lack of contact with other people very difficult to deal with. I am only allowed outside my own garden if I need to go to a hospital for tests. Even then I am always taken after dark when no-one is around and surrounded by a whole 'circus' of security. I have a mobile phone, but on various occasions this has been confiscated and we know that all our mobile phones (we do not have a land line) are constantly monitored, even that of my granddaughter who lives with us. I can narrate many instances of pure harassment, which have nothing to do with Pakistan's situation or my personal safety, as claimed by the "authorities". The most difficult for me to accept is the fact that, though certain promises had been made to me, these were not kept. I was treated like a traitor and by my own President.
What promises were not kept?
Until 4th February, 2004 Gen.(R) Musharraf had not publicly lied, though he had played havoc with all state institutions and democracy. He promised me that I would be rehabilitated immediately after reading out the so-called "confession", that I would remain a national hero, that I would have full freedom of movement within the country to live a respectable life like any other citizen and that I would only require a 'No Objection Certificate' to travel abroad. I believed him at the time and did not doubt his word. He reiterated this in a press conference, which has been printed in Business Recorder dated 6th February, 2004, of which I have a copy. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President of the then ruling Muslim League Party, who mediated in the deal between myself and the government, also gave a press statement to that effect and categorically stated that I had saved the country a second time by accepting the blame. That a President could lie and go back on his word, nobody anticipated at the time. His later abhorrent actions (refusal to doff his uniform in December 2004, judiciary issue, elections, etc.) show how wrong we were. The result was that he became one of the most hated people in the country and can't move around freely with security because of it.
You have been treated for prostate cancer. Did the treatment go well? And how is your health in general? Does the house arrest have any influence on your medical well-being?
Thankfully the treatment went well and the doctors are happy with my recovery. Tests so far have not produced anything worrying. My health is still not as good as it was before my house arrest. The high blood pressure persists and the inactivity tells on my mental wellbeing.
Who are the true friends who stayed with you/stood up for you over the past years?
There are many, 6 of whom are now allowed to visit me. What was an eye-opener to us during my stay in hospital in Karachi for prostate surgery, was the great affection I still enjoyed with the people of Pakistan. This manifested itself with literally hundred of bouquets being delivered to the hospital every day and the fact that many people regularly gathered on the hospital lawns to pray for my recovery. It was very touching and has been a source of great strength to me.
Last July your counsel, Iqbal Jaffrey, said that bugging devices remained installed in your residence. What bugging devices are you aware of?
There were video cameras and listening devices installed in the TV and in power sockets. Initially we left everything so that they could see what we were doing and listen to what we were saying. After some time I caused the TV in which the mini cameras were fitted to burn out. Later I removed the listening gadgets. Recently the team stationed in the guesthouse next door to our residence packed up all the gadgets and left. I have never noticed any interference with emails though I am sure they can keep track of who we are corresponding with.