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Pakistan to free nuclear scientists after no evidence of links to al
 Qaeda found

  ISLAMABAD, October 27 (Internews): Pakistan is to free two of its top
 nuclear scientists taken in by the authorities to question alleged links
 to Osama bin Laden and his group al Qaeda.
 "They will not be required for questioning in a day or two," the
 military government's spokesman Maj Gen Rashid Qureshi has said when
 approached for comments.
 When asked whether Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood and Chaudhry Majeed would be released soon, he replied in the affirmative, saying that nothing
 objectionable has been found against them.
 Gen Qureshi regretted that foreign media had carried wild stories about
 the arrest of the two scientists. One report wondered whether the
 scientists had passed on some chemical weapons-related information or
 material to the Taliban. Another speculated whether they had given some
 nuclear material to al Qaeda.
 He emphasised that the scientists had no links with Osama bin Laden in
 "There is absolutely no suggestion that either of the two were in any
 way involved in passing on information about Pakistan's nuclear
 programme either to the Taliban or to bin Laden's al Qaeda movement,"
 another senior official said.
 The government admitted earlier this week that the authorities are
 holding two nuclear scientists over alleged links with Afghanistan's
 ruling Taliban regime.
 Mahmood was arrested in Lahore and is "in protective custody" with
 fellow nuclear scientist Majeed. Both are retired senior officials of
 the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and helped the country to become a  nuclear-armed power.
 Mahmood has called for a ceasefire in the American-led attacks in
 Afghanistan. He was a project director in the lead up to Pakistan's
 nuclear tests in May 1998 and won the prestigious Sitar-e-Imtiaz civil
 award for his work.
 But he resigned after the then government agreed to sign the
 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which he said would wreck
 Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme.
 Military spokesman Qureshi said that they were investigating links
 between the Taliban and a non-governmental organisation engaged in
 relief work in Afghanistan set up by Mahmood.
 "Mahmood had been visiting Afghanistan and we are simply investigating
 the contacts that exist between his relief agency and the Taliban," he
 said. "His detention has nothing to do with any nuclear aspect."

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