The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on Thursday said that there is no possibility of Dr. Shakeel Afridi’s release at the U.S. request. The doctor was part of a polio drive but allegedly helped the CIA track down Osama Bin Laden and has been in jail since 2011.
In response to a question at the weekly media briefing on the stand of the government after the U.S. said it would hold back $ 33 million till the release of Dr Afridi, spokesperson Ms Tasnim Aslam said that the matter is sub-judice. If the courts exonerated him that would be a different matter but he has been convicted and the review process is taking place, she said.
She also clarified that the entire allocation for Pakistan is not linked to Dr. Afridi’s detention and only $ 33 million dollars was linked. Earlier, a statement issued by the spokesperson on Monday expressed disappointment that the Consolidated Appropriations Bill 2014, approved by US Congress which was signed into law by the President on January, 17, 2014 proposes to withhold US$ 33 million from assistance on account of Dr. Afridi’s detention. The statement said that Dr. Afridi, a citizen of Pakistan, is accused of having violated the country’s laws. His action also caused immense damage to the polio campaign in the country. His case is sub judice and he remains entitled to due process under the law. Consequently, any linkage of U.S. assistance to this case is not in keeping with the spirit of cooperation between the two countries.
She also said that the issue of funding and Dr Afridi’s detention could figure in the review of the Strategic Dialogue between the U.S. and Pakistan next week.
In November 2013, Dr Afridi whose 33- year- old sentence on charges of being linked with a banned terror organization was overturned, was slapped with a charge of murder in Khyber Agency for the death of a
boy in 2006-07 during a surgery. The case was registered by the Khyber agency administration over an incident which happened some years ago when he was practicing at a government run hospital in Bara in Khyber
Agency. Even after his sentence was overturned Dr Afridi continues to be lodged in Peshawar jail. On August 29 the Frontier Crimes Regulation commissioner in Peshawar Sahebzada Anees ur Rehman who later died in a mysterious fire in Islamabad in October, had set aside the trial and sentencing of Dr Afridi.
In December 2013, a tribunal of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Peshawar disposed of a review petition filed by Dr Afridi seeking a trial by a sessions judge.
The three- member tribunal which reviewed the case asked the FCR commissioner to clarify his predecessor’s order. The tribunal held that the Commissioner in his order in August overturning the sentence
was ambiguous about who should conduct a fresh trial in the case and sought clarity on whether it should be by a political agent or a sessions judge.