Health officials in Peshawar do not see any negative fallout of a report published in the Guardian that a senior health official from Khyber Agency had taken part in a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sponsored programme earlier in March.
The British newspaper reported on Tuesday that the CIA launched a fake vaccination drive in Abbottabad to gather the DNA information of Osama bin Laden’s family. It said that Khyber Agency Surgeon Dr Shakil Afridi had arranged a private vaccination campaign under the pretext of a CIA programme to trace the al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad.
Immunisation campaigns in Khyber-Pakhthunkhwa (K-P) and the tribal areas have been beset due to conspiracy theories that these medicines produce infertility and are meant to check growing Muslim population by the West.
“It [the Guardian report] will have no impact on the immunisation campaign as we have a standard procedure to carry out this exercise,” a senior official of the K-P health directorate told The Express Tribune. Regarding Dr Afridi, the official said he was an employee of the Fata secretariat, not the provincial government.
Dr Shakil Afridi
Sources told The Express Tribune that Dr Shakil Afridi belonged to the Malikdin Khel sub clan of the Afridi tribe and was a resident of Bara.
However, his family migrated to Multan a few decades ago and had lived there for many years before returning.
Shakil was taken into custody by security agencies on May 23 and was shifted to some undisclosed location. Sources said that security agencies had also picked up his laptop and other things from his home after taking him into custody.
Dr Afridi also ran a private hospital in the Alam Godar area of Bara tehsil some years back and was blamed for medical foul-ups and fined Rs1 million by Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI).
When he did not pay the full amount he was abducted by the LeI militants and was set free after local elders intervened and guaranteed that he would pay the remaining amount. “Some years back he visited the US for a short period and started taking a keen interest in militancy soon after,” a local journalist requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune. Last year Dr Afridi was made surgeon for Khyber Agency. Allegations of sexual harassment were also levelled against him.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2011.
Correction: An earlier version of this article wrongly named Dr Shakil Afridi as Dr Shakir Afridi. The correction has been made.
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