The decision to grant US citizenship to Dr Shakil Afridi, the man who allegedly helped the US in tracking down Osama bin Laden, has not been finalised, US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Monday.
Nuland, in the daily press briefing said, “The resolution which is moving through the Congress now is not finalised yet. But generally, these kinds of moves on behalf of individuals don’t have force of law. It’s a recommendation.”
A US congressman had tabled a bill on Sunday to the House of Representatives asking that Dr Afridi be granted citizenship, calling for the doctor to be deemed “a naturalised citizen of the United States.”
In his speech in the Congress, Rep Rohrabacher, who is also the Chair for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight, said, “Pakistan’s Inquiry Commission on the Abbottabad Operation, the US mission which killed Bin Laden, has recommended that Dr Afridi be tried for treason for helping the United States. If convicted, Dr Afridi could be executed. My bill would grant him US citizenship and send a direct and powerful message to those in the Pakistani government and military who protected the mastermind of 9/11 for all those years and who are now seeking retribution on those who helped to execute him.”
Rohrabacher cited media reports that Dr Afridi’s wife, an American citizen of Pakistani origin was also missing. “This bill shows the world that America does not abandon its friends.” He added that 21 members of the Congress had endorsed the bill as well.
The bill, which has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary, comes after US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta said in an interview to a US network last week that Dr Afridi had provided key intelligence that led to the raid in Abbotabad. Media reports earlier said that Afridi had organised a polio vaccination campaign in the city for the CIA, in order to collect DNA samples to prove that the al Qaeda leader was present in the Abbotabad compound.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2012.