In wake of Shakil Afridi's hunger strike, US reiterates calls for his release

Published: November 30, 2012

Shakil Afridi has been in solitary confinement at the Peshawar jail. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland says that the US believes that Dr Shakil Afridi should never have been locked up in the first place.

Responding to questions on reports that Dr Afridi had gone on a hunger strike to protest against prison conditions as he serves a 33 year sentence at the Peshawar jail for aiding the militant organisation Lashkar-e-Islam, Nuland said that as the Secretary of State stated on previous occasions that the prosecution and conviction of Dr Afridi sends the wrong message, especially in light of the shared interest in taking down a terrorist.

The State Department spokesperson told reporters during the daily briefing that they have made their views well known to Pakistan and the public at large.

She added that the US is having a series of working group meetings with Pakistan, which will give the US a chance to raise their concerns over the matter. “We want to see Dr Shakil Afridi released and safe,” said Nuland, “Dr Shakil Afridi should never have been locked up to begin with.”

US has consistently called for the release of Dr Afridi, who is believed to have helped the CIA in pinpointing Osama bin Laden’s hideout in the garrison town of Abbottabad and faces a treason charge.

Recently the US Senate allowed a proposed bill to be placed on its calendar for hearing which subjects payment of millions of dollars in counterinsurgency funds for Pakistan to the release of Dr Afridi among other conditions.

Reader Comments (18)

  • Nov 30, 2012 - 12:28AM

    The man helps capture the most dangerous terrorist ever in the world, and you lock him up and depress him to the point where he wants to kill himself.

    Well done Pakistan.

    By the way Obama, how do you sleep at night, knowing the person who helped put Bin Laden way is rotting away in a jail cell. He should be a hero to you, and you should be doing everything possible to negotiate his release.

    If you can free Raymind Davis, surely you can free this man.

    Selfish politics.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Nov 30, 2012 - 12:52AM

    It is the prerogative of the US Government to confine Aafia Siddiqui in US jail and it is also prerogative for the Government of Pakistan to confine Shakeel Afridi in Pakistani jail.

    Aafia Siddiqui was wanted by US Government and Shakeel Afridi is wanted by Pakistani Government.

    So what is the big deal in it?

    Why US is making hue and cry for Shakeel Afridi?

    For Pakistanis confinement of Aafia Siddiqui by the US Government is wrong.

    But for the American citizens, confinement of Shakeel Afridi is NOT wrong.

    So again, what is the bid deal in it?

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  • Jat
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:58AM

    @Noman Ansari: Dr Afridi will be freed, or Pakistan will commit financial suicide. Please note the timing of today’s drone strike.

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  • Pan Mat
    Nov 30, 2012 - 2:30AM

    In a country that adores heroes like Agha Waqar Ahmad for his water car what else do you expect. The rest of the world is amazed that a man who helped captured the most wanted global terrorist is being locked away for treason…..but in the simple minds of Pakistanis it all makes sense as rest of the world is out to get them!

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  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 30, 2012 - 2:53AM

    @Noman Ansari: Dear Noman,
    At least two or three major points I would bring up. We only have America’s word for it that they captured Osama bin Laden on 2/05/2011, and that they conveniently disposed of his body at sea, and we know that the Americans do tell outrageous lies. We are still waiting for credible DNA and photographic evidence to be released. It is a little like when the Americans invaded Iraq on the grounds that Sadden Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We are still waiting for that evidence also, and of course there are numerous examples of American evasion of the truth. In regard to Dr. Afridi, he was complicit in secretly helping a foreign power to cause great embarrassment to Pakistan, and of course concealing information useful to his Government. Now you might have become used to the Pakistan Government being lenient, but if the situation had been reversed and a person had colluded with Pakistan to embarrass America, one can only shiver at what the punishment would have been. In my country the authorities would have locked me up and thrown the key away. Also, it is quite apparent that Victoria Nuland has double standards. Dr. Aafi Siddiqui was incarcerated and tortured for several years, but the best the Americans could come up with was that she attempted unsuccessfully to attack her torturers, and for this was sentenced to 86 years in prison. In light of this it would appear, in comparison, that Dr. Afridi has been treated quite leniently by the Pakistan Authorities. .

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  • Pan Mat
    Nov 30, 2012 - 4:21AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: Aafia Siddiqui was wanted by US Government and Shakeel Afridi is wanted by Pakistani Government.
    So what is the big deal in it?

    Your are comparing apple and oranges here.

    Aafia was sentenced by a judiciary that is perceived as open and fair (by rest of the world san Pakistan) for admitting to conspiring to kill Americans.

    Dr. Afridi was sentenced by a closed court without a lawyer under the jurisdiction which does not cover Abbotabad for helping kill the most wanted terrorist in the world on the charges of treason. Since Osama was living in Pakistan without the knowledge of authority as per official stance of Pakistani government, it is not clear to rest of the world as to why this constitutes a treason.

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  • Khan Bhai
    Nov 30, 2012 - 4:40AM

    If he doesn’t want to eat, its his choice. Nothing we can do about that. Its a jail, not a 5-star restaurant.

    @Jat: LOL. And stay 500ft away from the keyboard.

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  • Pan Mat
    Nov 30, 2012 - 6:11AM

    @Sexton Blake: *We are still waiting for credible DNA and photographic evidence to be released. *

    You have live footage of Lal Masjid gun fight with army commandos, Sialkot lynching of two brothers, attack on Sri Lankan cricket team. What have you done about it?

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  • MoniShaikh
    Nov 30, 2012 - 10:26AM

    @Pan MAt: *You have live footage of Lal Masjid gun fight with army commandos, Sialkot lynching of two brothers, attack on Sri Lankan cricket team. What have you done about it?*

    Now what does this has to do with the issue at hand? Since you cannot justify the american invasions in iraq, afghanistan and pakistan, you are just trying to divert the focus away from the topic. (Perhaps that’s the only thing you are good at)Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2012 - 12:44PM

    We shouldn’t go far from the central subject.
    Question before us is that,he is really on hunger strike or not.
    Relevant officials say, he is not hunger strike but close relatives has different stance.
    The fact is that he is on hunger strike and through this way a message being conveyed to the party concerned to fast its efforts in regard to releasing him from jail and take him to away to Washington.

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  • Pan Mat
    Nov 30, 2012 - 9:26PM

    @MoniShaikh: Now what does this has to do with the issue at hand? Since you cannot justify the american invasions in iraq, afghanistan and pakistan, you are just trying to divert the focus away from the topic. (Perhaps that’s the only thing you are good at)

    Not trying to divert attention from any subject as each need to be dealt on its merit. My point was that Pakistanis take the high “moral” road of deniability regarding presence of OBL due to lack of evidence. But even in cases where there is plenty evidence, most Pakistanis have looked the other way.

    What message do you think it sends to rest of the world about objectivity of Pakistan?

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  • Cautious
    Dec 1, 2012 - 12:19AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui

    It is the prerogative of the US
    Government to confine Aafia Siddiqui
    in US jail and it is also prerogative
    for the Government of Pakistan to
    confine Shakeel Afridi in Pakistani
    jail.

    Rubbish. Prerogatives have nothing to do with. Aafia Siddiqu was given a public trial where Pakistan paid at least $2 million for her defense – by all accounts she convicted herself by taking the witness stand where she was proven to be a bald face liar. Dr Afridi wasn’t given a lawyer – was tried in a courtroom which arguably had no jurisdiction – and is being held in jail because of the OBL debacle yet charged with the ludicrous crime of helping terrorist. It’s not Dr Afridi’s fault that Pakistan is embarrassed because it got caught hiding the most wanted terrorist on the planet – you should have vented your anger on the people who were hiding him.

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  • Cautious
    Dec 1, 2012 - 3:33AM

    @Sexton Blake

    We only have America’s word for it
    that they captured Osama bin Laden on
    2/05/2011

    How about his wife’s and children who witness his death? How about Pakistan govt and military who haven’t denied the American claims? How about Al Qaeda who admits he was killed? Your anti American blather is long on conspiracy theory and short on facts.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 1, 2012 - 5:21AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    Dear Mohammad,
    I quite agree with your statement that it was Pakistan’s prerogative to confine Dr, Afridi. Dr. Afridi was party to an illegal attack on Pakistan sovereign territory at Abbottabad during which innocent people were murdered, real-estate was severely damaged, and an extremely high damage bill created, which had to be payed for. It should also be remembered that people are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Some of the people at Abbottabad were just killed out of hand, and we still do not know who they were. All I do know is that America is very good at spreading disinformation, and for some reason people actually believe the fairy tales created. I do not know what some of our contributors thought patterns are, but they do appear to be somewhat scary, and I hope that they are not my neighbors. I am under the impression in my suburb that killing ones neighbor or severely damaging their property is illegal and you are sent to prison for a very long time. Therefore, it would appear that Dr. Afridi was punished lightly.

    Moving on to Dr. Siddiqui, it appears that she was kidnapped with her 3 children in Karachi during 2003. It will take too long to explain all the details, but apparently she was interrogated for several years in various US torture camps with Bagram being the main center. The Americans could not find any evidence of terrorist wrong doing, so came up with the fairly tale that she attacked her torturers, shot her in the stomach, and illegally transferred her to the US, a foreign country, for a show trial. In normal circles what happened to Dr. Siddiqui is called abduction, rendition, torture. During the slick American show trial, designed to find her guilty, she was subjected to brutal treatment, American style, Judge Richard Berman disallowed much defense information, did not require forensic information in regard to the gun Dr. Siddiqui was alleged to have used, and brought in the planned guilty verdict. Thus Mohammad, I have to disagree with you somewhat. It was not Americas “prerogative to confine Dr. Siddiqui in a US gail. But then, America is not interested in justice. The US works on the assumption that might is right.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 1, 2012 - 5:33AM

    @Cautious:
    Dear Cautious,
    In regard to Osama bin Laden show me any evidence that will stand up in court. Even an American court.

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  • Enlightened
    Dec 1, 2012 - 7:33PM

    Shakil Afridi should be released unconditionally to avoid curtailment of aid from US.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 2, 2012 - 4:31AM

    @Enlightened:
    Dear enlightened,
    I have no objection to Dr. Afridi being released, because at the end of the day diplomacy can be the better part of valour, but unconditionally no. America can be tough at negotiating, but they do relent if pushed hard enough, and that is what diplomacy is all about The US released Australian David Hicks from Guantanamo Bay, but on the understanding that he was to be strictly controlled. The US has to allow Pakistan some pride, and doing a prison swap between Dr. Afridi and Dr. Siddiqui would seem to be the answer for both sides. I do not know how it can be worked now that courtroom decisions have been made, but let the people who created the problems solve them.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 3, 2012 - 8:46AM

    @Cautious:
    Dear Cautious,
    I wonder which is the best way to go? Believe in conspiracy theories, which you accuse me of or believe Washington fantasy tales, which you obviously do.

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