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Friday, May 24, 2024

Imran willing to negotiate Shakil Afridi’s release for Aafia Siddiqui

Speaking in an exclusive interview to Fox News, Prime Minister Imran Khan noted that Pakistan is willing to negotiate the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who aided the CIA in targeting Osama Bin Laden, if the US is willing to exchange a Pakistani prisoner, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

News Desk |

Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaking to Fox News in an exclusive interview on Monday, stated that if the US is willing to release Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, Pakistan will negotiate the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi.

Dr. Shakil Afridi, widely criticized in Pakistan for being an American spy, was taken into custody right after a US raid killed the Al-Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound on 2nd May, 2011.

This is a very emotive issue because Dr. Shakil Afridi, in Pakistan, is considered a spy of the US.

Reports revealed that Dr. Afridi had assisted the US personnel in collecting DNA samples from Bin Laden’s family by carrying out a fake polio campaign. In 2012, by the orders of a tribal court, Afridi was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment for partaking in anti-state activities.

Dr. Afridi “Hugely Embarrassed Pakistan”

Responding to a question, the Prime Minister noted, “This is a very emotive issue because Dr. Shakil Afridi, in Pakistan, is considered a spy of the US.” The Premier explained that Pakistan always considered itself a US ally, and had we been given information about Bin Laden’s hideout, we should have taken him out.

Imran Khan added, “If you ask the CIA, it was the ISI who gave the information about the initial location of Osama Bin Laden.”

Read more: Shakeel Afridi’s jail break-plan remains un-explained

In response to a question on Afridi’s arrest, Prime Minister Khan said, “At the time, it hugely embarrassed Pakistan. We are an ally of the US, and the US did not want to trust us. And they actually came and killed a man in our territory.”

He added, “Let’s not forget that Pakistan lost 70,000 people in fight. We were fighting this war for the US, and we lost all these people fighting this war. So, there was obviously a lot of anger on how this whole thing was done.”

Prisoner Swap: Aafia Siddiqui

In response to a question on whether he can release the prisoner using his authority as the premier, PM Khan explained that in a democratic process, there are certain decisions that a Prime Minister finds difficult to take because of the opposition. However, Imran Khan added, “But this is something that can be negotiated.”

The premier said, “We also have someone in prison in the US. A frail woman called Aafia Siddiqui, so yes, we could negotiate some sort of a swap.”

Nuclear war is not an option between Pakistan and India, the idea of a nuclear war is actually self-destruction.

Imran Khan noted that the prisoner swap was not discussed during his meeting with President Donald Trump, but it can become a topic of future discussions. He noted, “We know that the United States wants Shakil Afridi, so we can negotiate. No negotiations have started, but with Aafia Siddiqui, we could negotiate.”

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT graduate, was allegedly discovered from Afghanistan after being missing for five years. The US claims that an interrogation revealed that  she stole a gun and attempted to shoot a US soldier in Afghanistan.

Heavy allegations of working for Al Qaeda were levelled against her, and in September 2010, a New York court sentenced Dr. Aafia to a prison sentence of 86 years. Before Imran Khan’s trip, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s mother had written an open letter to the premier, requesting him to speak on behalf of her daughter.

Read more: “My Son Imran Khan, I demand the release of your sister Aafia,” Ismat Siddiqui