Militants of Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) have categorically rejected a statement by the government that Dr Shakil Afridi provided them financial and medical assistance. They have said that the news story was planted in the media by intelligence agencies.
Talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday from an undisclosed location, a spokesperson for the banned outfit, Abu Rasheed Lashkari, asserted that their organisation should not be linked with the doctor, who is accused of helping the CIA locate Osama bin Laden.
He said that four years back they had arrested Dr Afridi, when locals complained that he had carried out a fake kidney surgery on one of the tribesman, and later shifted him to a hospital in Peshawar.
“We picked him from his private clinic,” the spokesman said.
“After paying a fine of Rs1 million and guaranteeing that he would never perform surgeries in the Khyber Agency, we released him,” said the LI spokesperson.
He also trashed reports that that Dr Afridi provided any medical assistance to militants in his clinic, or that his office was used to make plans to target government officials.
“We never saw him in Tehsil Bara of Khyber Agency after we released him; he was living in Hayatabad, Peshawar.”
Officials of the political administration refrained to comment upon the issue when contacted.
Militants vow death for ‘CIA doctor’
Meanwhile, militants accused of conspiring with Dr Shakil threatened to kill him.
Dr Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in jail on May 24 after he was found guilty of treason under the archaic system of tribal justice.
He was arrested after US troops killed Bin Laden in May 2011 in Abbottabad where he set up a fake vaccination programme in the hope of obtaining DNA samples to confirm the al Qaeda leader’s presence.
But he was convicted for treason over alleged ties to LI and not for working for the CIA, for which the court said it did not have jurisdiction.
Another spokesman and a commander of the banned organisation both told AFP that they had nothing to do with Dr Afridi.
“We have no links to such a shameless man. If we see him, we’ll chew him alive,” the commander said on condition of anonymity.
“Whenever and wherever we get an opportunity to kill him, we will. If we can, we will even kill him inside the jail,” Hussain told AFP.
Hussain rejected any alleged links with Dr Afridi as “false and concocted”, saying he had been fined and expelled from Khyber “three or four years ago”.
On the other hand, the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) Pakistan also threatened Dr Afridi’s life.
“He is now on top of our list. We will cut him into pieces when and where we manage to reach him,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone.
“This court judgement and punishment is all a drama, staged to hand him over to America,” Ehsan added.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.