Arrangements have been made to shift Dr Shakil Afridi from Peshawar Central Jail to an undisclosed location, sources told The Express Tribune on Saturday.
Afridi, who ran a fake vaccination campaign to facilitate CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden, has been in internment in Peshawar Central Jail following his conviction under the Frontier Crimes Regulation by the political administration of Khyber Agency.
Officials at the central jail, on condition of anonymity, said they had been ordered by the government to prepare a challan for shifting Afridi to a safe location.
Officials said they have sent the challan to the Home Department for approval. Guards and a bullet-proof vehicle have also been prepared by the police for this purpose.
“The government does not want to attract too much attention, and as a pre-cautionary measure, we have been asked to prepare an open challan so that the man could be shifted anywhere,” officials said.
They added that Afridi had been kept in a high-security area in the jail, isolated from the rest of the prisoners, since there was unrest due to his arrival among the prisoners in general, and Taliban militants in particular.
“We fear that he could be beaten to death by prisoners if they get a chance; so armed police commandoes are guarding him 24 hours a day,” officials said.
Afridi could be shifted any time since the documents have been completed and the security arrangements finalised, they added.
“This man cannot be moved to any other jail, so Attock Fort and Qila Balahisar Fort are the ideal locations since there are no ordinary prisoners there,” the officials added.
The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had earlier requested the federal government to shift Afridi to another prison.
“Hardcore militants are present in Peshawar prison and Afridi is a high profile prisoner which is why we have requested he be relocated” K-P Chief Minister, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, had said during his brief interaction with media. The chief minister noted that the provincial government was cognisant of the Bannu Jail break incident and security measures were being put in place to avoid such incidents in the future.
Dr Afridi was arrested following Bin Laden’s death in a surgical strike by US forces in Abbottabad. Dr Afridi had set up a fake polio campaign at the behest of CIA to obtain DNA samples from the al Qaeda leader. However, Dr Afridi was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment over alleged ties with banned terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) rather than espionage.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2012.
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