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Pakistan's Nuke Founder Has Surgery

An official said Pakistani surgeons performed "successful" prostate cancer surgery Saturday on the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, who has admitted having leaked weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, 70, was admitted late Thursday night to Aga Khan Hospital in Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, and the operation was performed Saturday.

"The surgery done by Dr. Farbat Abbas and his colleagues has been completed and it was successful," a security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Dozens of guards surrounded the operating room area during the surgery, the official said. He declined to give further details.

Government public relations staff could not immediately be reached for comment.

Khan has been living under virtual house arrest since February 2004, when he admitted in a televised speech to leaking nuclear technology to other countries without telling the government. He then apologized to the nation.

He was fired as a government adviser following a probe launched in 2003, after the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Khan was operating a black market in nuclear weapons technology.

Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has pardoned Khan, but the scientist remains closely guarded and largely confined to his home in the capital, Islamabad. Government officials have said this is for Khan's own security.

The government says it has shared results of its probe with the U.N. nuclear watchdog and other countries, but has refused to allow foreign officials to interrogate Khan.

The government's Aug. 22 announcement that Khan was suffering from prostate cancer shocked a nation, which still largely regards him as a hero for providing a nuclear deterrent against neighboring archrival India, and for making Pakistan the world's only known nuclear-armed Islamic nation.

Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests in May 1998, weeks after tests by India, which had detonated its first nuclear explosion in 1974.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947. Two years ago they launched a peace process, which has been slow and arduous, largely due to their countries' conflicting claims to the Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

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