The Pakistani doctor imprisoned for helping the CIA zero in on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has claimed that the ISI views the Americans as Pakistan’s worst enemy — worse than even India — and the country’s fight against terrorism is just a pretence to get funds from the U.S.
Dr. Shakil Afridi, said this in a phone interview to Fox News from the Peshawar Central Jail, where he is lodged after being sentenced for 33 years. How this interview was conducted in the high-security prison is unclear but the report does include a reference to his family being able to smuggle things to him by bribing jail personnel.
Dr. Afridi claims to have tried to reason with his interrogators during his interrogation in the basement prison at ISI’s headquarters in Abpara, telling them that the U.S. was Pakistan’s biggest supporter given the amount of money Washington has pumped into Pakistan. “But all they said was ‘these are our worst enemies; you helped our enemies’.”
Dr. Afridi also airs his views on the role of the ISI in supporting “militancy” in Pakistan. Saying the ISI was helping the Haqqani network — held responsible by Washington for many of the attacks inside Kabul — the doctor said: “It is now indisputable that militancy in Pakistan is supported by the ISI. Pakistan’s fight against militancy is bogus. It is just to extract money from America.”
He said inmates were told by the ISI that they had been arrested because the Americans wanted them imprisoned. “We don’t want anything to do with you but will support you by letting you go. Go back to Afghanistan and steer clear of the Americans,” was the ISI instruction to them before their release.
Though he says he was kept in solitary confinement — blindfolded for eight months and hand-cuffed for 12 — his narrative includes conversations with other inmates including hardened terrorists and radicalised westerners. Besides details of his own torture — stubbed with cigarette butts and given electric shocks — he claims the Arab inmates were treated well while some of the westerners were subjected to abuse.
In the narrative on his experience, there are gaps as he does not reveal the length of his solitary confinement and claims he was also made to treat ISI personnel. Plus, he appears to have had easy access to other inmates including Abdul Karim Agha. In fact, he discloses a conversation with Agha, as per which the ISI orchestrated events to the extent that a U.S. government representative permitted to interrogate him was denied the chance on the premise that the inmate was too unwell to be questioned.
While revealing a lot on his imprisonment, Dr. Afridi did not provide details on how he got roped in by the CIA. Maintaining that he had not been told that his task was to confirm bin Laden’s presence in the Abbottabad house, the doctor said his handlers had advised him to shift to Afghanistan but he did not feel it necessary to do so as he was ignorant of the implications of his actions.