A horrific fire; a fake (?) interview

Published: September 13, 2012
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The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto 
kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

First, what else but the horrendous fire in a Karachi garment factory in which nearly 300 poor souls have already died agonising deaths, and some are injured beyond imagination. Where were the tens of blood-sucking agencies that are the bane of the lives of factory owners: the civil defence wallahs; the provincial government electricity inspectors (yes, in addition to Wapda/KESC); the safety inspectors; the fire inspectors?

A clothing manufactory is a ‘fire-friendly’ environment what with the new synthetic wonder materials; the miles and miles of wiring; the fuse boxes. Were there enough fire extinguishers within easy reach of the workers in case of a fire? Were ‘No-Smoking’ rules enforced? There are so many questions; so much hurt; so much pain. And a deep, deep anger.

Someone asked on Twitter if anyone would bet five rupees that nothing will happen to anyone: not the owners; not the managers; not the government departments responsible for safety in the factory which took so many hard-working; poor; and innocent, lives and hurt so many more. I did not take the bet.

And now to the so-called interview that Dr Shakil Afridi, undergoing a 31-year sentence in Peshawar’s Central Jail, is purported to have given to Fox News’s Dominic Di-Natale, published on the channel’s website on September 10, 2012.

Highly mystifying to say the least, so I talked to, and tweeted and emailed some friends in the one day between the news exploding in our faces and my writing this piece to try to unravel the mystery.

People who know how our jails are administered, or shall we say mal-administered, say it is possible that the interview was indeed given, considering that anyone can do anything in these jails so long as you have friends in high places, and therefore, the influence. As evidence they quote the man convicted in the case of Daniel Pearl’s beheading, Ahmad Omar Saeed Shiekh’s telephone call to President Zardari from jail after the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

They do not take into account that whilst in the eyes of many members of Pakistan’s Ghairat Brigades Omar Shiekh is a hero for his Jihadism: kidnapping tourists in Kashmir; having a hand in Pearl’s killing: Dr Afridi is a filthy traitor who helped the Americans find and kill Bin Laden. (It has always escaped me, however, how and why, a man who supposedly helped find the killer of thousands of Pakistanis, including those in the services and paramilitary forces can be termed a traitor? Oh, well…).

So, it follows that whilst a man such as Sheikh would have influence to do as he pleases in jail; Afridi would not get the time of day from his jailers, and from their watchers (you-know-who). Also, he would be most closely monitored, not only so that he is not harmed whilst in the custody of a government whose agencies do not have a very fair name when it comes to violence and extra-judicial murder; but also because a traitor can have no contact with the outside world in case he lets on to other information he might have.

Others insist that even Fox News, not known for either probity or truthfulness or, God forbid, fairness, could not have mounted such a big lie; of manufacturing an interview where none existed. That the interview in some shape or form: a smuggled cell-phone; a written interview; must have taken place, and that Fox News must have some proof. People in the know also say Fox have been trying for months to get Afridi on the record and might well have heavily bribed their way to one.

I simply do not buy this line of reasoning. Pakistani jailers while notorious for bribery and corruption, and in return providing any and all services to their wards for the right price, would simply not have the gumption or the effrontery of doing so for a high-profile ‘enemy of the country’, designated as such by none other than the security establishment.

I would go several steps further: as far as to say that Afridi is in all probability watched round-the-clock by agents of none other than the ISI itself. Remember that he is accused of getting close to Bin Laden without anyone knowing, until Leon Panetta, for reasons best known to himself, let it be known that Afridi had helped ‘unearth’ the terrorist.

Remember too that when Bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad Cantonment in a unilateral raid by US SEALs, much egg found its way on to many a face and trickled down on to many a bemedalled breast. Afridi is, therefore, a much-hated villain in the eyes of the Deep State which would do it’s all to keep him under deep wraps.

Still others insist that the interview did happen but under the direct supervision of the ISI to send the Americans a message. Unless the ISI is growing a new skin, what message pray? That a high-risk, high security prisoner, who helped another power breach his own country’s sovereignty can speak to international news channels at his leisure?

I don’t believe a word of this interview. And know what clinched it for me?

The interviewer saying: “The doctor, who also used to act as a surgeon despite not being clinically qualified to perform procedures, said he (was) forced to work as a general practitioner, treating both staff and detainees in the detention centre. I was told to treat patients and prescribe medicine. Mostly ISI servicemen came to me for advice and prescriptions. I was told that the ISI doctor had said that anyone or everyone could go to Dr Shakil for medical purposes.”

I ask you! The ISI would send its agents to Shakil Afridi for treatment? The ISI that is famed to be a most excellent 5-star employer? And which is flush with funds to be able to afford the best medical care in the world for its own? The ISI would send its people (for treatment!) to a prisoner it had recently tortured? What utter tripe. Fox is lying until it provides proof that it did, indeed, interview Afridi.

Stop Press: Or is it a ploy by the powers to prepare the ground for Afridi’s dispatch to the ‘Promised Land’. See my piece.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Sir King Kong Bunty
    Sep 13, 2012 - 9:52PM

    Sir, I think you are right. In the words of dear beloved Gen Hamid Gul, this is a false flag operation (just like he says, 9/11 was a flase flag by Bush Administration and neo-cons, evangelican christians zionists)

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  • Raw is War
    Sep 13, 2012 - 9:54PM

    dear sir

    afridi did a favor to Pakistan. Should let him go.

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  • Cautious
    Sep 13, 2012 - 9:58PM

    how and why, a man who supposedly
    helped find the killer of thousands of
    Pakistanis, including those in the
    services and paramilitary forces can
    be termed a traitor? Oh, well…

    Worth repeating – a question the rest of the World is also asking.

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 13, 2012 - 10:05PM

    “Or is it a ploy by the powers to prepare the ground for Afridi’s dispatch to the ‘Promised Land’”

    The Dr. has run out of his utility for CIA and is a live baggage. Perhaps his dead body is more useful than the living one.

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  • Falcon
    Sep 13, 2012 - 10:36PM

    A good probing analysis. Now, this seems like your strength, triangulation of information. So, why not stick to your strengths rather than the usual style bashing of everything under the sun?

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  • gp65
    Sep 13, 2012 - 10:57PM

    @Falcon: “rather than the usual style bashing of everything under the sun?”

    Ah but he usually speaks about bad choices made by arm/ISI. Even in this post, in indicating the difference between Omar and Afridi, he did shine a light on a thought process that would consider one a hero and the other a villain.

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:11PM

    “They do not take into account that whilst in the eyes of many members of Pakistan’s Ghairat Brigades Omar Shiekh is a hero for his Jihadism: kidnapping tourists in Kashmir; having a hand in Pearl’s killing”

    If Bhagat Singh can be a national hero without Indians being declared ‘Ghairat Brigade’ – save Gandhi, or perhaps not – then why not another person fighting for the freedom of his nation can be treated the same way without associating sarcastic denominations. Both used violence and killing to achieve their objectives. Didn’t they?

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  • Deep state
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:19PM

    We own this state.Recommend

  • Procrastinator
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:23PM

    @Lala Gee:
    You still have not answered from the previous discussion…
    One word for you “Bangladesh!!!!”….
    Let me know if that rings a bell…& the magnitude is probably 100 times
    Now lets hear you deny it.

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:31PM

    @gp65:

    “indicating the difference between Omar and Afridi, he did shine a light on a thought process that would consider one a hero and the other a villain.”

    I never knew that in India the local agents of foreign intelligence agencies are considered heroes and are rewarded as you and many other Indians are advocating for Dr. Afridi. What award did you give to Madhuri Gupta for helping Pakistan to bust the sinister plans of India to hurt Pakistan.

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  • sabi
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:41PM

    Kamran Shafi.
    I agree with you over the interview’s cedebility and here is what I wrote On ET editorial comment section,
    “Isn’t it a fake interview if not then what favour this man is going to get, but further harassment and wrath.of agencies.Highly doubtfull. I think we may hear some denial from Shakil Afridi soon”.
    Regards

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  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 14, 2012 - 12:10AM

    @Sir King Kong Bunty:
    Hamid Gul, now there is a reliable authority on the truth!

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  • Arifq
    Sep 14, 2012 - 12:32AM

    Strangely you had the need to discuss Dr Afridi with the death of 300 people, that is not right!

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  • @plarkin
    Sep 14, 2012 - 1:41AM

    There was no interview. This is what Fox news hoped this man would say. Nothing more than wishful thinking. Although, given a free hand, this man would say whatever was asked of him.

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  • HH
    Sep 14, 2012 - 1:57AM

    No surprises here. Fake operation is being supported by fake interviews and fake books. No one has seen any evidence of US claims even after more than a year since the operation.

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  • Doofy
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:04AM

    I came to read Mr. KS link the recent tragic fire with the ‘Deep State” someway or another but today was pleasant surprise.The tides are turning ladies and gentlemen ,slowly but surely !

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  • gp65
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:08AM

    ET,
    Why do you not let me respond to Lala Gee’s comment, I am trying for the 3rd time.

    Bhagat SIngh killed only a British polic officer John Saunders who ordered the lathi charge on peaceful satyagrahis during which Lala Lajpat Rai died. He did not kill innocent unrelated British women and kids or kidnap and torture them. He also threw a bomb on the central legislative assembly at a time that he knew assembly was not in session and then surrended himself. His goal was to make sure that he had a trial that would be well watched and he would get a chance to express his opinion about the injustices of British raj.

    Can you compare such a man to one who kills/rapes/tortures innocent men and women in the name of jihad the way Omar Sheikh? Are the 2 acts of violence comparable in any way?

    There is also a difference between Madhuri Gupta and Afridi’s case. MAdhuri was arrested in April 2010 for spying for ISI, charged for the same reason in July 2010 and is getting due process of law as shown by this url from December 2011 shows that she http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/madhuri-gupta-spy-case-court-seeks-reply-on-status-of-info_745830.html shows
    Also India has never claimed to be Pakistan’s strategic ally.

    In case of Afridi he was convicted under FCR wiithin a month of his arrest. The charge had nothing to do with spying, it had to do with supporting LeI which is a terrorist organization. Please tell me Lala Gee How many people in Pakistan have been convicted for terrorism besides Afridi? Also if the crime was done in Abbotabad, does trying him without giving him any access to a lawyer under FCR and completing the trial within 2 days sound like he got due process of law? Also does Pakistan not claim to be a strategic ally of Us in the WOT. So in what way was outing Obama against Pakistan’s national interest? And why is he not charged for the crime that everyone is accusing him off?

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  • Indian Wisdom
    Sep 14, 2012 - 10:08AM

    @Kamran Shafi,

    Balance article sir!!!
    ” if anyone would bet five rupees that nothing will happen to anyone: not the owners; not the managers; not the government departments responsible for safety in the factory which took so many hard-working; poor; and innocent, lives and hurt so many more. I did not take the bet.”

    Even we will not take the bet, because we have experiences of our own country where after many such incidences the real culprits are yet to be brought to justice. And i can bet my 5 Rs. that the situation is similar in your country!!!

    Further you are right that the so called interview seems to be a fake one until and unless fox brings up some evidence that the said interview has really taken place!!!!

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  • Zafar
    Sep 14, 2012 - 11:02AM

    KS sahib, well done. People can go to any length, once they’ve paper and pen and nothing to loose!!!! who cares about the truth, right.

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  • Raza Khan
    Sep 14, 2012 - 2:53PM

    Gen Hamid Gul, Zaid Hamid, Qazi Hussain Ahmed all living in fantasy world of their own!

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 14, 2012 - 4:58PM

    @Procrastinator:

    “@Lala Gee: You still have not answered from the previous discussion…”

    Read this eye opener by an Indian writer Ramananda Sengupta, “Why Bangladesh hates India” (http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/dec/21bspec.htm). Pakistan have cordial relations with the Bangladeshi people and the government, while India is hated by most Bangladeshis. Isn’t this fact alone enough to bust the false Indian propaganda. Your PM has openly admitted, rather complained about, this fact. This is what a Bangladeshi student told the author:

    “After our independence, India has time and again treated us with condescension and disdain. You have threatened to cut off our water sources. You have repeatedly accused us of harbouring anti-Indian rebels on our soil. Your border forces regularly attack our villages, rape our women. You accuse us of flooding India with illegal immigrants. And while mouthing platitudes about a free market, you deny us the right to sell our goods in India without tariffs. We might be poor, but we are Bengalis, we have some self-respect,” he declares.Recommend

  • Lala Gee
    Sep 14, 2012 - 6:48PM

    @gp65:

    “@Lala Gee: … Also does Pakistan not claim to be a strategic ally of Us in the WOT. So in what way was outing Obama against Pakistan’s national interest? And why is he not charged for the crime that everyone is accusing him off?”

    USA is now a strategic partner of India. Would India allow Indian citizens to become CIA agents? Does it matter how noble the cause they are told (by the way, low level agents are never shown the complete picture as a standard practice of intelligence operation). A detailed answer to your questions is already been given in this article “Shakil Afridi: still guilty” published yesterday in ET, which I know you have already read through your comment. You cannot convince a person who is not willing to accept facts and reasoning.

    Regarding Bhaghat Singh, I had a very lengthy discussion with Indian commentators on this topic previously, and indulging in it again would be just a repeat of that. My only point was that either the use violence as a means towards an end should be bad for all (the Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, for which India claims all the credit in the world), or should be good for all without discrimination. And the last point, regarding your allegations of rapes committed by Omar Sheikh, I don’t know how much truth is in it, but I certainly know about the gang rapes committed by the Indian security forces and Hindu hooligans in IOK, during anti-Sikh riots of 1984, and anti-Muslims riots of 1992, 1993, and 2002, and sporadic rapes of Christian nuns.

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  • A2Z
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:27PM

    This same Kamran Shafi was pledging PPP and PML-N for the betterment of Pakistan. I post a comment over there but ET never published it. Now the same Kamran Shafi is crying over the issue of deaths. The inefficient govt is responsible for this mess and he his blaming them. Was he right at that time or now?
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  • Randomstranger
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:51PM

    @Lala Gee.

    Bhagat Singh and Omar Sheikh.. What a comparison! What’s next? Jinnah and Hitler?

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  • Mirza
    Sep 14, 2012 - 8:10PM

    KS Sahib, yet another great Op Ed, thanks for that. Let us hope that you keep trying your best and keep people informed.

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  • gp65
    Sep 14, 2012 - 8:17PM

    @Lala Gee: “USA is now a strategic partner of India. Would India allow Indian citizens to become CIA agents? ”
    US is NOT a strategic ally of India in the WOT and India does not get money for that purpose. Given that decimating Al Qaeda is a key goal that on paper is shared between Pakistan and USA and for which Pakistan accepts money, it seems that killing/capturing OBL was in line with Pakistani goals also. This is why when a man who did that is punished, the world thinks of Pakistan as saying one thing but doing another. In any event, while Pakistanis think he deserves punishment for hellping CIA, that is not what he was charged with. You also did not explain how you can justify trial under FCR for a crime committed in Abbotabad.

    Finally the word you used for people who raped Muslim and SIkh women during riots is correct. Hooligans is a mild term, I can think of worse terms. But no-one considers these people as national heroes and you seem to be justifying Omar Sheikh as a hero by comparing their actions with his.

    As an aside in the 92/93/2002 riotsHindu women were also raped by Muslims. In both cases whether Hindu or Muslim they (the criminal and the victim) were Indian citizens and deserve justice. So for someone claiming to be secular, I am not sure why you brought the faith of these victims into account.

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  • David Smith
    Sep 14, 2012 - 9:09PM

    @gp65
    you actually respond to Lala gee?

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  • gp65
    Sep 14, 2012 - 11:32PM

    @David Smith: “@gp65
    you actually respond to Lala gee?


    I will discuss with anyone that responds in a civil manner. There are many Pakistani posters whose views resolnate a lot with mine Mirza, Ejaaz, LoneLiberalPK, Faraz, Totcalling etc. That ofcourse provides some type of validation. But I am also here to learn and one learns most by trying to understand the thought process of someone who is different. I do not ever discuss with kaalchakra because his thought process is beyond my understanding. Lala Gee however I am able to understand – though certainly cannot agree.
    Iff someone feels violence is violence and that of Bhagat Singh is no difference from Omar Sheikh, after I explain Bhagat Singh’s history – well the thought process couldn’t e clearer.

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  • gp65
    Sep 15, 2012 - 3:23AM

    @Lala Gee: “A detailed answer to your questions is already been given in this article “Shakil Afridi: still guilty” published yesterday in ET, which I know you have already read through your comment. You cannot convince a person who is not willing to accept facts and reasoning.

    If you saw my comments then you must know that I had pointed out flaws in the facts and reasoning offered by the author that no one has really rebutted. So why would I revise my opinion?

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 15, 2012 - 3:58PM

    @Randomstranger:

    “@Lala Gee.
    Bhagat Singh and Omar Sheikh.. What a comparison! What’s next? Jinnah and Hitler?”

    Thank you for mentioning Jinnah positively. If Bhaghat Singh is good and Omar Sheikh is bad, then Jinnah is also good and Hitler is bad. Isn’t this your logic?

    Note: The moderator wouldn’t publish my proper response even after trying 5 times over last 18 hours.

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 15, 2012 - 6:24PM

    (Dear Moderator: Lets see how many times I must re-post to get it published)

    @gp65:

    “@Lala Gee: … US is NOT a strategic ally of India in the WOT”

    Then what this strategic partnership is for? Perhaps for nuclear cooperation, right? Does even that change a thing? Since you are strategic partners for nuclear cooperation, would you allow Indian nuclear scientists, or even ordinary citizens, to become CIA agents without your government’s knowledge and approval? Further, punishing a murderer, e.g. Ajmal Kasab, is a right thing to do, but does that mean anyone, you or me, is allowed to facilitate a mob to dispense justice without giving him the due process? What Dr. Afridi did was akin to a greedy person willing to commit a crime for money and by chance hit to a murderer. The good cause was not even his objective, as the Dr. was not told what he was looking for accept to run a fake vaccination campaign in lieu of money from CIA. As far as his trial under FCR laws, which are in place since the British rule, is a lawful trial done accordingly to its procedural code. The Dr. is not the only one who was ever tried under FCR law, rather all the inhabitants of FATA origin come under the jurisdiction of FCR. As Dr. Afridi belongs to Khyber Agency and the crime he was punished for (helping Taliban) was also committed in the tribal territory, he was ought to be tried in FCR court. He yet has to be tried for treason charges in a court of law working under PPC, but as you may know that leveling treason charges is a political decision and a sole prerogative of GOP. He may or may never be tried for the treason charges. Perhaps someday you also critically study the working of US legal system and compare the sentence of 86 years imprisonment of Dr. Afia for pointing a gun towards a US soldier (she was initially held along with her 3 minors in captivity on terrorism allegations for over 5 years without any trial) and the punishments of the culprits of “Mahmudiyah gang rape and killings”. Your last point “Hindu women were also raped by Muslims” seems to be highly debatable without some proof. What about Sikhs and Christians? Did they also rape Hindu women? You very rightly condemned the hooligans who committed gang rapes in the anti-minority riots, but what about some words of condemnation for your security forces who committed the same heinous crimes even at a much larger scale against Kashmiri Muslims? Or, the Kashmiris are a bit of less human beings? And, I am sure, you do not think that only the words of condemnation are enough to console the victims of these horrible crimes. What about punishing the culprits? Read these reports by Human Rights Watch Organization.

    One last thing, Omar Sheikh is in jail for last several years, and hardly anybody now remembers him, let alone being considered a hero. The others alike him are out, because the Indians’ beloved current government of Pakistan – their liking for this government is obviously for the reason how quickly this government has taken the country down the hill – didn’t effectively peruse their cases in courts, nor did they enact any legislation like TADA, POTA, or Patriot Act to deal with such people. As I said earlier, I cannot convince a person who is not willing to accept facts and reasoning, this is my last post on this particular topic.Recommend

  • Lala Gee
    Sep 15, 2012 - 7:42PM

    @gp65:

    “@Lala Gee: … US is NOT a strategic ally of India in the WOT”

    Read these reports by Human Rights Watch Organization

    1- “Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India”
    2- “India: A Decade on, Gujarat Justice Incomplete”
    3- “Everyone Lives in Fear. Patterns of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir”
    4- “India: Communal Violence and the Denial of Justice”

    One minor correction: In the last paragraph in my original post “effectively peruse their cases in courts”, please read ‘peruse’ as ‘pursue’.Recommend

  • Enlightened
    Sep 15, 2012 - 7:46PM

    I would expect a Pak Urdu daily to take cue from the Fox news and publish a interview with Kasab by its reporter in the high security Mumbai jail with startling disclosures like Kasab confessing to be an Indian who was trained by RAW along with ten other Indians to carry out the attack on 26/11 to malign Pakistan’s name.

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  • gp65
    Sep 15, 2012 - 10:14PM

    @Lala Gee: “@Lgp65: … US is NOT a strategic ally of India in the WOT”
    Read these reports by Human Rights Watch Organization”

    The reports you have attached have no bearing on the point I was making. Stringing together a list of random anti-India news clippings is not an effective rebuttal.

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 16, 2012 - 1:27AM

    @gp65:

    “The reports you have attached have no bearing on the point I was making. Stringing together a list of random anti-India news clippings is not an effective rebuttal.”

    Perhaps you didn’t read my actual comment just above the list of reports. By the way, these reports are compiled and published by the International Human Rights Watch Organization and some reports are as lengthy as 275 pages. You cannot just discard them by saying “anti-India news clippings” without reading them. I am sure you do not believe in what your other fellow countrymen believe in.

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  • Sep 16, 2012 - 6:11PM

    Why should we believe you? What evidence do you have?

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