Instead of being rewarded, he has been sentenced to 33 years in prison. The judiciary in Pakistan ‘punished’ Dr Shakil Afridi for helping the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) track down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2011.
The Pakistani media recently reported that the concerned authorities in Islamabad have taken the physician from a prison in Peshawar to an unknown location. Dr Afridi’s lawyer Qamar Nadim, too, confirmed the news, saying that he didn’t know where his client was taken.
Speaking at a press conference a couple of days ago, the lawyer said that Dr Afridi’s family members urged the Pakistani authorities to allow them to meet the physician. However, the authorities rejected the request, with a senior government official saying that the doctor – who has been in solitary confinement for almost eight years after using a vaccination scam to help US agents track and kill the al-Qaeda leader – was taken to a ‘safer location’.
The civilian foreign intelligence service of the US Federal government launched a secret operation after receiving information that bin Laden had taken shelter in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Reports suggest that Dr Afridi allegedly helped the CIA officers catch the mastermind of 9/11 attack. The former surgeon of Khyber Agency had run a phony vaccination campaign in Abbottabad in order to collect blood samples. From the samples collected by Dr Afridi, the CIA came to know that bin Laden was hiding in ‘Waziristan Haveli’, an upper-class mansion in Abbottabad. The rest is history. The terrorist was killed on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1am (local time) by a US military (special operations) unit. The death of a ‘friend’ shocked Pakistan, which detained Dr Afridi for ‘plotting the murder’.
The physician was jailed in May 2012 after he was convicted of ties to militants, a charge he and his family members have always denied. Human rights organisations are of the opinion that the Pak authorities have taken actions against Dr Afridi because Islamabad considered bin Laden as a ‘friend’.
Pakistani media personnel and local residents gather outside the hideout of Osama
In the past, US President Donald Trump asked Islamabad to free Dr Afridi, saying: “I’m sure they would let them (him) out. Because, we give a lot of aid to Pakistan.” The president also asked Pakistan not to “take advantage, like everybody else” and help terrorists. However, the Pak authorities hinted that they would not allow Washington to interfere in the South Asian country’s ‘internal matters’. “Pakistan, and not Donald Trump would decide Dr Afridi’s fate,” stressed a top Pak official, who wished to remain anonymous.
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