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Pakistan Defector’s Dad Makes Clear

July 3, 1998

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ The father of a Pakistani man who claims to be a nuclear scientist with secret information about plans to bomb India said today his son worked for a company that makes bathroom fixtures.

Iftikhar Chaudhary Khan ``never worked as a scientist,″ his father, Sikander Khan, told Pakistan Television in an interview. ``He was a business commerce student. He didn’t study science.″

``He worked four years as an accountant,″ the father said.

Khan, who is in New York seeking asylum, claims to be a nuclear scientist who attended a secret meeting where Pakistan mapped out plans to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against rival India.

Khan said he fled to the United States to protest the plans and promised to hand over documents to substantiate his claims after being granted asylum.

Meanwhile, Pakistan urged the United States and Canada to investigate how a ``trickster got a visa when genuine applicants face hardships getting visas to Western countries.″

Information Minister Mushahid Hussein, whose comments were carried by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency, said the Pakistan government was also carrying out its own investigation.

``How did he get access to the world media and hire an attorney in the United States?″ asked Hussein. ``These are points that ought to be pondered by the concerned countries.″

Hussein called Khan’s allegations ``a false story aimed at maligning Pakistan and exacerbating tension in the region.″

Asad Gulzar Sheikh, director of Forte Trading Company Limited, which makes ceramic tile and bathroom fixtures, said Thursday he was Khan’s boss for four years until November 1997, when Khan resigned.

Sheikh said Khan was an assistant accountant who earned $120 a month. It wasn’t immediately clear why he resigned.

India and Pakistan both conducted underground nuclear tests in May sparking fears of a nuclear arms race. The two countries have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub dismissed as ``nonsense″ Khan’s allegation’s that Pakistan was planning a first-strike against India.

The government also said scientists are not involved in meetings to map out combat strategy.

On Thursday, the State Department said it had no information to support Khan’s claims.

``We do note significant discrepancies in his story as reported in the press,″ said State Department spokesman James Rubin, declining to elaborate.

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