News Analysis |
Opposition in the Senate staged a walkout over government’s failure to brief the upper house of the Parliament about the alleged jailbreak plan aimed at freeing Dr. Shakeel Afridi. The opposition in the Senate – Sherry Rehman questioned the government over the issue, which prompted Senate Chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani to request the foreign and interior ministers to present the report on the issue.
The other opposition parties also joined the walkout. This was due to the fact that no one from the cabinet uttered a word on the matter in the absence of the interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal – who is recovering after a failed assassination attempt against him. On May 04, the issue was first raised by the former Senate Chairman, Mian Raza Rabbani in the upper house on Friday.
Rabbani demanded clarity on the issue, commenting on the media reports claiming that Dr. Afridi had been moved from a prison in Peshawar to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi. On Monday, Senate Chairman Sanjrani summoned the defense and interior ministers to brief the Senate members regarding the jailbreak plans, which were floating in the media. Moreover, foreign media reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had planned to break into the Peshawar jail to set Dr. Afridi free, after which Afridi was airlifted to Rawalpindi.
Pakistan’s sovereignty was blown away, when the US military entered into Pakistan’s territory uninformed and killed Bin Laden in unilateral operation. Therefore, the opposition is not wrong in wanting a clear answer as to see if the US was going to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty once again.
Further to this, a recent report published in a Russian news agency, Sputnik, stated that “the CIA planned to pull Dr. Shakil Afridi from the Peshawar prison, trying to organize a prison break, but the attempt was disrupted by [Pakistan’s] ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]. A local informant, who also worked for the CIA, handed over information about this [CIA plan]..
Reports also emerged claiming that Pakistan was planning to undergo a swap deal to exchange Aafia Siddiqui or Hussain Haqqani for Dr. Afridi. On May 03, these rumors were brushed aside by the foreign office spokesperson, Dr. Muhammad Faisal, who denied the baseless rumors. However, interestingly, he declined to comment on questions pertaining to the planned jail-break reports. Additionally, the rumors were further aggravated when he said that he had no information about the matter and that the given situation was related to the interior ministry.
Who is Adiala’s new high-profile Inmate?
Dr. Afridi was convicted of treason, for aiding the CIA’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Afridi – a former senior surgeon conducted a fake vaccination program to track down the 9/11 mastermind. He collected the DNA samples to confirm the identity of Bin Laden. Afridi was praised by the US for his major contribution in the controversial raid to kill Bin Laden in May 2011. After the role of Afridi was established, Pakistani authorities arrested him.
In May 2012, under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, he was sentenced to 33 years for involvement in anti-state activities – which he denied. He was believed to have ties with a militant group. In March 2014, his sentence was reduced to 23-years after the charge of waging war with Pakistan had been dropped. In regard to this, during last week of April, the high-profile inmate of Peshawar prison was airlifted by a helicopter from KP, under tight security and taken to the Adiala jail.
The credibility of Russian media Reports Challenged
Refusal of the Foreign Ministry to comment on this case gave credence to the Russian reports. Rabbani and Rehman want clarification on the issue as silence is not an option over such an important matter. The opposition wants to know if the CIA was about to make an attempt to free Afridi or not as the Bin Laden operation has already left strains in relations with Washington.
On May 04, the issue was first raised by the former Senate Chairman, Mian Raza Rabbani in the upper house on Friday. Rabbani demanded clarity on the issue, commenting on the media reports claiming that Dr. Afridi had been moved from a prison in Peshawar to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi.
Pakistan’s relations with the US are at a crossroad, post-CPEC. The fresh escalation in strain is due to the death of an innocent citizen Ateeq Baig – when the vehicle of US Defence and Air Attache Colonel, Joseph Emanuel Hall jumped the traffic signal and rammed into a motorcycle of the deceased. Ateeq Mir died on the spot, while the other passenger, Raheel Ahmed was injured. Pakistan and the US have indulged in a diplomatic dispute over the killing as the US announced to restrict the free movements of Pakistani diplomats, in response to Pakistan’s decision to not allow Colonel Joseph to leave the country.
In the past, Pakistan’s sovereignty was blown away, when the US military entered into Pakistan’s territory uninformed and killed Bin Laden in unilateral operation. Therefore, the opposition is not wrong in wanting a clear answer as to see if the US was going to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty once again.