Dr Shakil Afridi, the man who assisted the US to detect Osama Bin Laden might be released, if thing go well between Pakistan and the US. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has intimated that Islamabad may be willing to consider the fate of Dr Shakil Afridi to repair ties with Washington.
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While Afridi was hailed as a “hero” by the US for his role in the raid by US special forces that led to the killing of al-Qaeda chief and most wanted terrorist – Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, but he is viewed as a “traitor” in Pakistan.
The 56-year-old Dr Shakil Afridi helped the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) run a bogus hepatitis vaccine programme in Abbottabad to confirm bin Laden’s presence in the garrison city by obtaining his DNA samples. In May, 012, Afridi was sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment for treason.
Afridi is viewed as a traitor in Pakistan, but he is considered a friend in the US. So we have to bridge this gap,” Qureshi said when asked about the fate of Dr Afridi.
Qureshi said that the future of Afridi lies with the Pakistani courts and not with politics. He added that Shakil Afridi who was a CIA asset went through the due legal process and was given a fair trial and a chance to plead his case. We expect you to respect our legal process, as we respect yours,” added Qureshi
The relations between Pakistan and the US are at its worst possible phase after President Trump accused Islamabad of giving nothing to Washington but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists. The US Congress also passed a bill to reduce Pakistan’s defence aid to USD 150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than USD one billion per year.
Qureshi is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. During his meeting with Bolton on Tuesday, Qureshi is expected to discuss ways to enhance Pakstan-US relations.