Doctor who aided hunt for Osama bin Laden languishes



    Late Osama bin Laden founded Al-Qaeda
    Late Osama bin Laden based Al-Qaeda

    Shakil Afridi has languished in jail for years — since 2011, when the Pakistani physician used a vaccination rip-off in an try and establish Osama bin Laden’s house, aiding U.S. Navy Seals who tracked and killed the al-Qaida chief.

    Americans may surprise how Pakistan may imprison a person who helped monitor down the mastermind of the 9/11 assaults. Pakistanis are apt to ask a special query: how may the United States betray its belief and cheapen its sovereignty with a secret nighttime raid that shamed the army and its intelligence companies?

    “The Shakil Afridi saga is the perfect metaphor for U.S-Pakistan relations” — a rising tangle of distrust and miscommunication that threatens to jeopardize key efforts towards terrorism, stated Michael Kugelman, Asia program deputy director on the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

    The U.S. believes its monetary assist entitles it to Pakistan’s backing in its efforts to defeat the Taliban — as a candidate, Donald Trump pledged to free Afridi, telling Fox News in April 2016 he would get him out of jail in “two minutes. … Because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan.”

    But Pakistan is resentful of what it sees as U.S. interference in its affairs.

    Mohammed Amir Rana, director of the impartial Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies in Islamabad, stated the belief deficit between the 2 international locations is an previous story that gained’t be rewritten till Pakistan and the U.S. revise their expectations of one another, acknowledge their divergent safety considerations and plot an Afghan battle technique, aside from the present one which is to each kill and speak to the Taliban.

    “Shakil Afridi (is) part of the larger puzzle,” he stated.

    Afridi hasn’t seen his lawyer since 2012 and his spouse and kids are his solely guests.

    For two years his file “disappeared,” delaying a court docket attraction that also hasn’t proceeded. The courts now say a prosecutor is unavailable, his lawyer, Qamar Nadeem Afridi, instructed The Associated Press.

    “Everyone is afraid to even talk about him, to mention his name,” and never with out cause, stated Nadeem, who can be Afridi’s cousin.

    In Nadeem’s workplace, the wind whistles by a clumsily coated window shattered by a bullet. On one other window, clear tape covers a second bullet gap, each from a taking pictures incident a number of years in the past through which no suspects have been named.

    Another of Afridi’s attorneys was gunned down exterior his Peshawar house and a Peshawar jail deputy superintendent, who had advocated on Afridi’s behalf, was shot and killed, stated Nadeem.

    Afridi used a faux hepatitis vaccination program to attempt to get DNA samples from bin Laden’s household as a way of pinpointing his location. But he has not been charged in reference to the bin Laden operation.

    He was accused beneath tribal regulation alleging he aided and facilitated militants within the close by Khyber tribal area, stated Nadeem. Even the Taliban scoffed on the cost that was filed to utilize Pakistan’s antiquated tribal system, which permits closed courts, doesn’t require the defendant to be current in court docket, and limits the variety of appeals, he stated.

    If charged with treason — which Pakistani authorities say he dedicated — Afridi would have the appropriate to public hearings and quite a few appeals all the way in which to the Supreme Court, the place the main points of the bin Laden raid might be laid naked, one thing neither the civilian nor army institutions need, his lawyer stated.

    Tensions have grown between Pakistan and the U.S. since Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet through which he accused Pakistan of taking $33 billion in help and giving solely “deceit and lies” in return whereas harboring Afghan insurgents who assault American troopers in neighboring Afghanistan. Days later, the U.S. suspended army help to Pakistan, which may quantity to $2 billion.

    Infuriated by Trump’s tweet, Pakistan accused Washington of creating it a scapegoat for its failure to convey peace to Afghanistan.

    The Wilson Center’s Kugelman advocated a “scaled-down relationship” between the 2 international locations. He stated either side must comply with disagree on some points and as an alternative concentrate on these areas the place they will comply with cooperate towards terror teams that each regard as threats, together with the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.

    Pakistan and the Taliban sanctuaries it supplies are a giant a part of the insurgents’ success in Afghanistan, nevertheless it’s solely considered one of many elements, Kugelman stated.

    “It’s foolish to suggest that if the Pakistani sanctuaries were eliminated, the insurgency would magically go away and the U.S. would be able to prevail in Afghanistan,” he stated.

    “The Taliban has persevered because the U.S. still struggles to fight wars against non-state actors, and because the Afghan government has remained a weak and corrupt entity that has failed to convince a critical mass of Afghans that it’s a better alternative to the Taliban.”

    Afridi spends his days alone, remoted from a common jail inhabitants full of militants who’ve vowed to kill him for his position in finding bin Laden, stated Nadeem. Still, Nadeem stated authorities are treating Afridi nicely and he’s in good well being, in accordance with those that have seen him.

    There was a no indication whether or not U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells introduced Afridi’s case up in latest conferences in Pakistan. But in an announcement, the U.S. State Department instructed the AP that Afridi has not been forgotten.

    “We believe Dr. Afridi has been unjustly imprisoned and have clearly communicated our position to Pakistan on Dr. Afridi’s case, both in public and in private,” it stated.

    In the previous, Pakistan has in contrast Afridi’s dilemma with calls for for the discharge of Afia Siddiqui, a Pakistani lady who’s in U.S. custody convicted of attempting to kill an American soldier in Afghanistan.

    “To America, she (Siddiqui) is a terrorist,” stated Kugelman. “To Pakistan, she is a wrongfully imprisoned innocent.”

    Source: AP