Published — Thursday 29 November 2012
Last update 29 November 2012 12:34 am
ISLAMABAD: The father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb has registered a new political party to contest for the first time general elections expected next year, officials said yesterday
Many Pakistanis regard Abdul Qadeer Khan, 76, as a hero for building the Muslim world’s first atomic bomb but in the West he is considered a dangerous renegade since admitting in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets on the black market.
In July, he set up Tehreek-e-Tahafuzz Pakistan or Save Pakistan Movement (SPM) to contest the 2013 elections and to campaign for an end to endemic corruption.
But attendance at his public meetings has been sparse and Khan is unlikely to emerge a serious contender at the ballot box despite his popularity.
A spokesman for the Election Commission of Pakistan confirmed to AFP that SPM was among 19 new political parties whose registration was approved on Tuesday.
The election is expected to mark the first time that a democratically elected civilian government in Pakistan completes a full term in office and hands over to a new, elected administration.
SPM secretary general Chaudhry Khurshid Zaman said Khan had yet to decide whether to stand himself for election but that as chairman, he would guide the party through the campaign.
“Our party has been registered, we will take part in the elections with full strength,” Zaman told AFP.
“The whole country is burning, price hikes, unemployment, the energy crisis, poverty and other heinous problems have made public life miserable.
“Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has joined politics to change this face of Pakistan and he is the only hope. All other political parties have failed.” Separately, Pakistan’s military said it has successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
A military statement says the Hatf V or Ghauri missile was launched yesterday from an undisclosed location.
It says the missile can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads over a distance of 1,300 kilometers (810 miles).
Pakistan has previously test-fired this same missile. The country became a declared nuclear power in 1998, when it conducted underground nuclear tests in response to those carried out by its archenemy and neighbor, India.
The two countries have fought three major wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. They often conduct tit-for-tat missile tests.