Dr A Q Khan, called by the Pakistanis as the father of their N-Bomb programme, has an international notoriety for trading in nuclear secrets and equipment. When the sh*t hit the proverbial fan, he was given a mere gentle tap on his wrist by General Musharraf, the president of Pakistan. Khan was too big a personality, an icon in his own country, to be touched. Furthermore, overseas Pakistanis stated that he couldn’t have traded in nuclear secrets if he had not received blessings from the top military hierarchy of Pakistan.
Now the plot thickens as the Netherlands revealed that the CIA had been instrumental in telling the Dutch to let him go free, when he would have ended in Dutch prison.
Khan worked in the Netherlands for Urenco, a Dutch uranium enrichment plant. In 1975, the Dutch authorities knew that Khan was stealing secrets about the enrichment of uranium. The Dutch wanted to charge him but was asked by the CIA to do otherwise.
What was the CIA up to? Was it really that they wanted to track him thus asking the Dutch to allow him to return to Pakistan?
His return to Pakistan meant that the dreaded Islamic bomb would be expedited, but if so, why did the Americans permitted him to run loose just when the Dutch could have put him behind bars?
Was it an American strategy to keep tension on the subcontinent going? A nuclear-capable India ought to be neutralised by a nuclear-capable Pakistan? We need to bear in mind that in those days in the mid-70s India wasn’t all that warm with the USA, and was leaning more towards the USSR.
Was this interference with Dutch action part of the US grand strategy during the Cold War? If it was, it’s a bloody dangerous game as Khan’s subsequent trading of nuclear secrets with North Korea and Iran have heightened tension today. Maybe the Americans deserve to reap what they sow.