US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday vowed to continue to press the case of Dr Shakil Afridi with Islamabad, calling Pakistan’s jailing of Afridi for 33 years for helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden “unjust and unwarranted”.
“The United States does not believe there is any basis for holding Dr (Shakil) Afridi. We regret the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence,” she said, calling his treatment “unjust and unwarranted.”
Earlier, the US government had also said that Pakistan had no basis to hold Afridi.
“Anyone who supported the United States in finding Osama bin Laden was not working against Pakistan, they were working against al Qaeda,” Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters.
Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, from the two major parties on the Senate Armed Services Committee, demanded Afridi be pardoned and freed “immediately”, saying the decision could put US financial assistance at risk.
“What Dr Afridi did is the furthest thing from treason. It 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,” they said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.