Home Global Village Dr Shakil Afridi’s release might be a fresh contention between Pak-US after...

Dr Shakil Afridi’s release might be a fresh contention between Pak-US after foiling of prison break bid

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News Analysis |

A Central Investigation Agency (CIA) attempt to rescue Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who had helped US authorities track down al-Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden, was foiled by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

A shocking report revealed by Russian News Agency, the Sputnik, implies that a local informant who also offered services to CIA handed over information about the prison break plan. Pakistan’s top spy agency was also aware of the prison break strategy and thus staved off the bid.

Quoting well-placed sources, Sputnik confirmed that before the prison break plan, Washington had contacted Islamabad with a request to extradite Afridi to the US; this was turned down. As Dr Shakil Afridi helped US find their biggest enemy, they wanted to secure his custody, in a bid to protect other operatives in the region as well.

Although Pakistan has been successful in securing and implement its policy over Dr. Afridi in the last seven years, his release in the next month could prove to be another addition to a plethora of contentious issues between Pakistan and Trump administration.

Washington has been pressing Pakistan to release the medic; however, the establishment considers this a matter of sovereignty and thus refused the request multiple times. Moreover, Pakistan has also refused the Doctor swap option; to exchange [Afridi] for Aafia Siddiqui.

Although CIA or Pakistani senior officials have not confirmed the report regarding the prison break, what gives credence to the report is the fact that Dr Shakil Afrid was recently shifted from a prison in Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to Adiala Jail, in Rawalpindi.

Read more: Where does Pakistan fit into Trump’s World?

Though the relocation was kept under the wraps, individuals privy to the development confirm that Afridi was airlifted, in the wee hours of Friday. The doctor, who has been a bone of contention between Islamabad and Washington after the completion of Operation Neptune Spear also underwent medical checkup, according to sources.

Moreover, Shahid Saleem Baig, Punjab’s prisons chief also made a snap visit to Adiala jail and examined the security arrangements in detail.

A Central Investigation Agency (CIA) attempt to rescue Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who had helped US authorities track down al-Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden, was foiled by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

However, there is a possibility of a fresh clash between Pakistan and the United States in June, owing to the fact that Afridi would be completing his jail term. Qamar Nadeem Advocate, the counsel for Shakil Afridi, detailed that the doctor was sentenced to 33 years in prison on four different charges.

The lawyer contends that 10 years of imprisonment had been remitted on an appeal filed and if his client’s total jail term and remissions are taken into consideration, then he is likely to be freed next month. Dr Afridi, the former surgeon of Khyber Agency, had assisted Washington in tracking Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief through a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Read more: The reason why Trump ignored Pakistan

His findings prompted American bigwigs to launch a midnight operation on May 2, 2011 to kill al Qaeda leader in his compound, apparently without any information to the Pakistani government. He was arrested from the Karkhano market area of Peshawar in 2011 and was sentenced to 33 years in prison by the political administration of Khyber Agency under the Frontier Crimes Regulation in 2012.

Interestingly, Paul D. Ryan, current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, had accused the White House of leaking information that led to a 33-year prison sentence for Afridi. Ryan’s observations seem true as then-CIA director Leon Panetta and then-US secretary of state Hillary Clinton had confirmed the doctor’s role in eliminating bin Laden.

The doctor, who has been a bone of contention between Islamabad and Washington after the completion of Operation Neptune Spear also underwent medical checkup, according to sources.

The United States had been trying to get Afridi back through warnings of sanctions and diplomatic tactics, however, the attempts are not being successful. Two years ago, Donald Trump, the current US President, had said during his presidential campaign that he could have Dr. Afridi released in two minutes and he was certain that the Pakistani officials would not object.

Though Trump boasted about his negotiation skills through the statement, it was received in a bad taste in Islamabad; condemned in strong words with a message that the fate of Dr. Afridi would be decided by Islamabad and not Washington.

Read more: Nawaz may hit the lottery with Trump meeting

“Contrary to Trump’s misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the US. He should learn to treat sovereign countries with respect. Trump seems to be ignorant, historically, of the huge sacrifices Pakistan have made in standing with or supporting US policies over the years.” the Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said.

Although Pakistan has been successful in securing and implement its policy over Dr. Afridi in the last seven years, his release in the next month could prove to be another addition to a plethora of contentious issues between Pakistan and Trump administration.


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