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A Q Khan accused of plagiarism

August 26, 2009 22:15 IST

Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan, allegedly involved in proliferating nuclear technology to countries like North Korea and Iran, has now been accused of plagiarism.

A Pakistani doctoral student in computer engineering from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in a letter to the editor to the popular Pak daily The News has alleged that Khan in his column "Random Thoughts" has copied several paragraphs -- word by word -- from various places including prospectus of under-graduate studies.

Khan, who had confessed in national television to have passed on nuclear secrets to several countries like North Korea, Iran and Libya, was put under house arrest by the previous Musharraf regime for several years, before he was set free early this year by a Pakistani court.

The United States
had slapped sanctions against him and his associates. After being released from house arrest, Khan has started writing regular columns in various Pakistani newspapers. He has also blamed ex-President Pervez Musharraf for his ordeal and claimed that he was pressurised to make such a confession. "It is very gratifying to get literally hundreds of emails from young students at home and abroad with suggestions and requests to write on various topics, mostly on engineering disciplines," Khan wrote in his latest column, which appeared in The News on August 19.

"This column is in response to such requests and is meant for the student community and not for experts and trained professionals in this field who definitely know much more than I do. I hope this information will be useful to future computer engineers and scientists," Khan wrote. Five days later on August 24, Fahad Rafique Dogar, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, wrote to The News that several paragraphs of this column of Khan were plagiarised. It was published in the letter to the editor section of the paper under the headline "Careless Neglect?"

Dogar alleged that several paragraphs by Khan giving information on basics of computers were lifted from the western universities without giving any attribution. He produced at least four paragraphs from the Khan's column which has been alleged plagiarised -- from Cambridge University, Imperial College of London, and Undergraduate Prospectus 2009, University of Sussex. There has been wide reaction to the allegation in both the cyber world and the newspapers he writes for.

"This does not come as a surprise as many people are of he opinion that Dr Khan had copied the plans for the atomic bomb from another source," wrote Mishal Tariq, from Kinnaird College, Lahore, to The News, which published a series of responses in its edition dated August 26. "If one is writing for a technical, professional or academic audience, passing off previous published materials or another person's idea as your own is not only unethical and unacceptable but also considered as theft," said Dildar Muhammad Khan.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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