Reaction: No basis for Dr Afridi’s detention, says US

Published: May 24, 2012
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US Senators McCain, Levin say that by trying Dr Afridi, Pakistan risks the fractured US-Pakistan relationship could deteriorate further. PHOTO: AFP

US Senators McCain, Levin say that by trying Dr Afridi, Pakistan risks the fractured US-Pakistan relationship could deteriorate further. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: 

Dr Shakil Afridi’s sentencing is likely to further strain relations between Pakistan and the United States – the two counter-terrorism allies who are already embroiled in a dispute over the blockade of Nato supply routes by Islamabad.

On Wednesday, the US State Department refused to offer official comment on Dr Afridi’s sentencing – but the move has incensed American lawmakers.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, spokesperson Victoria Nuland reiterated America’s official stance on the matter: There is no basis for Dr Afridi to be held. However, she refused to comment specifically on his sentence.

Nuland said US secretary of state and defence secretary have addressed this issue in the past. She added that US officials have regularly taken up the matter with Pakistan and will continue to do so.

In January, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said that Dr Afridi and his team had been key in finding Bin Laden, describing him as helpful and insisting the doctor had not committed treason or harmed Pakistan.

Unlike the State Department, US lawmakers criticised Dr Afridi’s sentence as ‘shocking and outrageous.’

“What Dr Afridi did … was a courageous, heroic, and patriotic act, which helped to locate the most-wanted terrorist in the world – a mass murderer who had the blood of many innocent Pakistanis on his hands,” Senators John McCain and Carl Levin, the chair and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a joint statement.

They called upon the Pakistani government to pardon and release Dr Afridi immediately, or else face further aid cuts.

“Dr Afridi’s continuing imprisonment and treatment as a criminal will only do further harm to US-Pakistani relations, including diminishing Congress’s willingness to provide financial assistance to Pakistan.”

Another US Republican Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher went a step ahead in his criticism of Dr Afridi’s sentencing, calling it a “decisive proof that Pakistan sees itself as being at war” with the US.

In a press statement, Rohrabacher said, “There is no shared interest against Islamic terrorism. On 9/11, Pakistan was coordinating the efforts of the Taliban who were in league with Osama Bin Laden. In 2012, Pakistan is still working very closely with the Taliban, whose leader Mullah Omar was plotting with Bin Laden right up until he was killed. Pakistan was and remains a terrorist state.”

Rohrabacher, who is also the Chairman for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, had earlier this year introduced two bills calling for Dr Shakil Afridi to be given US citizenship, and subsequently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • May 24, 2012 - 6:59AM

    USA! Please release all the suspected spies of your nationality who were maligned by your government, agencies and media and jailed for an unlimited time. Then talk.

    Peace to the world minus USA and its hip pocket; the UK

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  • May 24, 2012 - 7:43AM

    Well, in Pakistan Terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and the Lal Masjid Clerics are let off due to “lack of evidence”, while people like Afridi who helped catch one such Terrorist is jailed.

    I long ago gave up the pretense that Hafiz Saeed with ever be punished for his crimes, not in Pakistan. To believe that is to believe that a modicum of law and order and related morals exists in Pakistan. I am sorry, I am not that optimistic.

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  • John B
    May 24, 2012 - 8:20AM

    US brought the Blind Chinese activist from China without a hitch. If PAK thinks that Afridi will be an another piece for negotiation, she has to think twice.

    PAK should know that US never leaves their man behind. Part of the issue with N. Korea is accountability of American POW.

    US will move a security council resolution to order PAK to release Afridi. Who will vote against his move in UN.

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  • Mirza
    May 24, 2012 - 8:29AM

    Contrary to what the US says we are really very upset at the killing of our biggest asset from our own military base. A lot of efforts, planning and money went to waste and the US put a lot of egg on our face. Yet they call themselves our friend and partner, shame on them we don’t need friends like them. We are not going to play ball with the US and NATO.

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  • yusuf
    May 24, 2012 - 8:41AM

    but you people feel no sorry for killing our soldiers in Salala……double standards!

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  • AS
    May 24, 2012 - 10:17AM

    Shame Shame USA what nervous you have!!! You talk about our judicial system but First take a look at your judicial system. You pick an innocent lady along with her children from Karachi take them to Kabul. Frame false charges against her and YOUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM sentence her to life. You KILL so many of our innocent people on suspicion without giving them right to defend themselves and you talk about Justice. Why?????????????????????????????????????????

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  • Ahmer Ali
    May 24, 2012 - 10:17AM

    US’ leaders would you like to explain that did you have any solid and authentic bases/evidences to imprison Dr. Aafia Siddiqui????

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  • Sajida
    May 24, 2012 - 10:39AM

    But look how Bradley Manning is treated….

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  • Nasir
    May 24, 2012 - 10:47AM

    Yes Mr. US, release the name of Pakistani in media who is useless now then play dirty politics. Did anyone know any of the CIA’s agents participated in the same task.

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  • ayesha_khan
    May 24, 2012 - 10:55AM

    @yusuf: “but you people feel no sorry for killing our soldiers in Salala……double standards!”

    They asked Pakistan to do a joint investigation report. Pakistan refused. Their report says that there was firing from Pakistani side and Afghan forces asked for NATO support leading to the incident which happened due to communication gap.

    The fact is that Pakistan army has had a history of providing firecover to jihadis on the eastern border. Why is it so impossible to believe that something similar was tried on the western border but backfired?

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  • WhatisThetruth
    May 24, 2012 - 11:17AM

    If Dr Afridi gets sentenced, what about the likes of Lt. Gen. Pasha who permitted all the blackwater personnel visas, the FBI operatives, and the approval of drone strikes. If Dr Afridi is guilty of aiding and abetting the US, so is our top civil and military leadership. Jis ki Lathi us ki bhais.

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  • j. von hettlingen
    May 24, 2012 - 12:50PM

    No doubt Dana Rohrabacher’s rhethoric is a poison for the U.S.-Pakistani relation.
    Shakil Afridi’s conviction can only be seen as politically motivated. It looks as if having Afridi as a scapegoat Pakistan can close the chapter on Bin Laden and doesn’t have to be bothered about who had helped Osama Bin Laden find shelter in Abbottabad.

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  • vigilant
    May 24, 2012 - 1:22PM

    Keep ur suggestion out of our internal matters……Dr. Afridi deserve this not only for spying but also compromising Polio campaign in worst hit areas and security of those who are involved in humanitarian efforts

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  • yusuf
    May 24, 2012 - 4:03PM

    @ayesha
    I am a Pakistani and I have to think like a Pakistani, I have more trust in my Army than American. Because the ones killed in Salala are my brothers. If we just have to make assumptions then why not make in our own favour. Thats how all sane people across the world think!

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  • aliz
    May 24, 2012 - 4:32PM

    why you all people wasting time and blaming each other. its a Tom and Jerry Show … Plz be patient and keep watching and dont make your self fool for dirty game.

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  • Chengez K
    May 24, 2012 - 6:22PM

    At least the U.S should pay the $ 25 Million to this traitor…..rather than the measly $10,000/ paid so far……

    CIA it seems is also making an example of all its informers/agents who get CAUGHT!!!

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  • Lupo
    May 25, 2012 - 8:30AM

    Some fair trial. He’s from Karachi. They drag him up to FATA to try him under the FCR by some political officer.

    Only in Pakistan would a man who (unwittingly) helped catch a mass murder be given 33 years in jail.

    The US should insist on a million a day until he’s released.

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  • Asad
    May 25, 2012 - 9:58AM

    USA awarder life imprisonment to Jonathan Pollard who was an Israeli spy. Now we all know how close Israel and USA are but still that relationship wasn’t enough to save the spy.

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