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Pak nuke official held for Iran links

Dubai, Dec. 7: Pakistani authorities have picked up a director of Pakistan’s Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) to probe his alleged involvement in nuclear-related deals with Iran.

Unnamed family friends said the director, Farooq Mohammed, failed to return to duty after the Id holidays that ended on December 1.

The KRL, considered to be behind Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and the medium-range ballistic Ghauri missile, has not received any leave application or notice from Mohammad or his family.

This has prompted his colleagues to believe that he has been detained for interrogation, apparently sparked by Iranian revelations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the country received nuclear-related information from people of Pakistani origin.

Farooq, claim his friends, might be privy to KRL’s procurements abroad. Sources in the United Arab Emirates as well as Dubai say some businessmen in the Emirates are also being tapped for information.

They say the Emirates had been one of the biggest transit stations for Pakistan’s nuclear-related consigments, bought either through cover or front companies.

Farooq is believed to know a lot about the deals with these businessmen.

Attempts by Farooq’s friends to get in touch with his family were met with silence. “No, we don’t have any information about him,” his son said.

Farooq is the third official from the Pakistani nuclear establishment being interrogated due to the ongoing war against terrorism as well as the mounting pressure on Iran.

Bashiruddin Mehmood, considered one of the founding fathers of a nuclear reactor in Punjab, was arrested and grilled for several months by Pakistani and US intelligence officials for alleged links with Osama bin Laden and his terror network.

Months of intensive questioning later, Mehmood was released and his Umma Tammeer Nau (UTN), a non-governmental organisation, banned.

The UTN ran relief and welfare projects in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Mehmood now leads a quiet retired life, most probably in Islamabad or Rawalpindi, the garrison town south of the capital.

A Dubai-based source said the IAEA’s efforts against nuclear proliferation haved turned the heat on Pakistan, particularly after Tehran, in an attempt to ease international pressure, revealed its secret dealings with Pakistani businessmen on nuclear knowhow to the UN inspectors.

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