Islamabad: Disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan has said that he did Pakistan a favour by making the atomic bomb but was "stabbed in the back by the very people who were benefited most" from his work, the Army.

Khan, who now gets a "special pension" from the Pakistani Army, also contended that India and Pakistan have not fought a war since 1971 because both countries possess a nuclear deterrence and are aware of the consequences of using atomic weapons.

"The deterrence of nuclear weapons lies in the fact that both sides know that the other can retaliate in kind," he said in an interview.

Pointing out that there were no wars in Europe since 1945 due to the presence of the nuclear deterrence, he said the same was true "between India and Pakistan since 1971."

"The Kargil skirmishes of 1999 were localized and the issue of the use of nuclear weapons never arose. We may be naive but we are not idiots. Both sides know what the consequences would be," Khan said.

Khan, who was placed under house arrest in 2004 after he confessed to running a clandestine nuclear proliferation network, was responding to a question on whether
a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could be won by either of the countries.

"Nuclear weapons are a means of ensuring peace by using it as a tit-for-tat threat. I am convinced that there will never be another war between India and Pakistan as a consequence thereof," he said.
  
Asked about his public confession on television about selling nuclear technology out of greed for profit and his subsequent retraction, Khan said, "I took sole blame for this whole episode because the political leadership urgently asked me to do so.

"Former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf promised me a full pardon with complete rehabilitation. However, within a few days the mischief started and he started talking of a conditional pardon, the consequences of which we now all know.”

"Our house was searched and bugged, our phones and Internet connection were disconnected."

Replying to a question on whether he felt tricked, Khan said, "Tricked is not the right word. I feel stabbed in the back by the very people who benefited most from my work – i.e, the Army."

Asked if he regretted having built the atomic bomb, he replied, "I still believe I did Pakistan a favour".

He claimed that Pakistan "was forced to go nuclear in response to the Indian tests and political aggression".

(Agencies)