- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004

A plot is being organized to replace Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf with the nuclear engineer who sold the country’s secrets to America’s self-avowed enemies, according to one of the political and religious leaders involved.

Details of the plan were discussed at a meeting in late February in Akora Khattak, near Peshawar, following the death of the wife of Sen. Sami ul-Haq, vice president of a coalition of six religious parties known as the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), said a politician who attended the meeting.

The source said the mastermind of the plot to install Abdul Qadeer Khan as president is his close friend, Gen. Hamid Gul, a former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency who is the “strategic adviser” to the MMA.

Gen. Gul, according to the participant, told others at the Akora Khattak meeting that he was assembling “a strong team of faithful Muslims to take control of the country to serve the nation and the Muslim world with true Islamic spirit.”

Gen. Gul then added, according to the source, “A.Q. [Khan] is our natural leader.”

Mr. Khan, a religious fundamentalist with a penchant for the good life, is the most popular man in Pakistan because of his role as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, which gave the nation a counterweight to India’s nuclear capability.

He publicly confessed last month to selling nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran after U.S. and British intelligence services confronted Gen. Musharraf with evidence of the operation. But he was given a full pardon and allowed to keep assets including lavish homes in Pakistan and Dubai.

Gen. Gul and many of the country’s political-religious leaders journeyed to Akora Khattak to present their condolences to Sami ul-Haq. The senator is also the president of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, an extremist party, and chancellor of the University for the Education of Truth.

The university, where nine out of the Taliban’s top 10 leaders were educated, is located in Akora Khattak, 25 miles from Peshawar. It has a student body of 2,800 from some 20 Muslim countries.

The participant in the meeting strongly doubted the ISI reported the meeting to Gen. Musharraf “though they must have known about it, as the university is where the ISI recruited some of its best agents when Pakistan was helping its Taliban ally in Afghanistan.”

Gen. Gul frequently expresses strong anti-American views in Pakistani newspapers. He has accused Gen. Musharraf of “selling out” to the United States and “betraying” Pakistan’s national interest.

The MMA coalition has also denounced Gen. Musharraf’s orders for the Pakistani army to collaborate with the United States in the manhunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Distributed by United Press International, for whom Arnaud de Borchgrave is an editor-at-large.

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