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Dr Afridi’s conviction


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IN a fit of pique, our security establishment decided to punish Dr Shakil Afridi to make Pakistan look strong after the Osama bin Laden raid made it look weak. Never mind the embarrassment of Pakistan being painted internationally as a country that regards someone helping track down the world’s most wanted terrorist as deserving of years of punishment. But only in Pakistan can preposterousness be topped off with more of the same. According to documents accessed by this newspaper, it seems Dr Afridi was actually convicted by the Fata tribunal not for aiding the US intelligence apparatus in Pakistan, as was widely reported earlier, but for colluding with Mangal Bagh, leader of the Lashkar-i-Islam in Khyber Agency and a thorn in the side of the Pakistani state (though, like many militants in the tribal region, the history of his relationship with the state isn’t as straightforward as is now portrayed).

This abrupt change raises some difficult questions. First is the Pakistani government’s silence in the face of the reaction provoked by Dr Afridi’s sentencing. Not just was it condemned by some senior figures within the US government, the US Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to cut aid to Pakistan by $33m — a million for each year of detention handed down to Dr Afridi, generally regarded in the US as a hero that helped bring down the world’s most wanted man. Given the shaky juncture at which Pak-US relations currently stand, it is curious that there was no denial from official quarters that Dr Afridi had in fact been convicted for links to a militant group. If the reason behind his conviction was different, why was this not clarified earlier? And if the charges included treason, as this government also indicated, why was he not tried in an open court under the regular laws of the land? There are, after all, numerous legal precedents of people being tried and convicted for providing information for recompense to a foreign government.

Yet another question is that, quite clearly, bin Laden — and numerous other known militants — lived and moved freely on Pakistani soil for several years. But despite the institution of an inquiry commission into the bin Laden matter, the only head to have rolled so far is that of Dr Afridi. Had the state been apprehending and convicting militants or those responsible for bin Laden’s undetected presence in the country, Dr Afridi would have little to complain about. But his case appears to be more the exception than the rule. Preposterousness heaped on preposterousness: it’s never a good way for any country to manage its affairs.

Comments (43) Closed

Cyrus Howell May 31, 2012 08:07am
Obama (and the Pentagon) are not likely to change their minds, and Mitt Romney is very unlikely to win the US presidency because American women like Obama's wife (and don't like Romney's wife Mrs. Barbie Doll).
Tariq May 31, 2012 06:57am
It is tit for tat, nothing else.
Chuck Hastings May 31, 2012 03:52am
With allies like Pakistan, the United States doesn't need enemies.
Rida May 31, 2012 04:30am
So our army led security establishment still believes that they can get away with this sham trial and conviction. They should realise that the world has changed and now it is very difficult for them to negotiate with it. They should know that they can only befool ordinary Pakistanis by fomenting anti americanism but not the super power.
sharma May 31, 2012 05:09am
Pakistan is making it very difficult for the world to accept it in the comlty of nations.The sitiuation is deteriorating very fast. What if Obama changes his mind after the lections or if the republican Mit Rommney assumes office? The present Pakistani position is solely based on American withdrawl from Afganistan and a further assumpton that after that pakistan amy will gain control of Afgan proxies. What if any of these assumptions are wrong as has been in the past???
harpal28 May 31, 2012 05:35am
dont u feel funny being editor of a paper in pakistan where u hv to write a editorial like the above piece? phew... its so embarrassing to read and hear things about pakistan.
Moin May 31, 2012 05:47am
Why every so called liberal is worried about Dr. Afridi's sentence and propagating that it would tarnish our image abroad and we would lose all our credibility in the comity of nations. I think we would strengthen our position in the global world as there are not one but several examples of several countries where their nationals have been sentenced for upto 50 years for colluding with foreign countries our spy agencies. Why is Pakistan then exception. Such positions taken by various anchors and newspapers specially that like Dawn strengthens the suspicions that West is investing alot in our media to get their desired point of view being propagated to the world.
Jean Verlander May 31, 2012 05:55am
Some common sense at last on the Dr. Afridi case. Pakistan was made to look foolish allowing Bin Laden to live in their midst for years, how else can they SAVE FACE but to blame the Doctor. I thought we were all looking for BIn Laden, the Doc. on the whole did a good job. Please do not tell lies about why he is in Prison. It does not wash with the outside world, we can see through you Pakistan.
adithan May 31, 2012 06:07am
it seems Dr Afridi was actually convicted by the Fata tribunal not for aiding the US intelligence apparatus in Pakistan, as was widely reported earlier, but for colluding with Mangal Bagh, leader of the Lashkar-i-Islam in Khyber Agency says it all- the Pakistan perception of reality (if it is correct) victim and terrorist
shankar May 31, 2012 06:25am
Can't understand why Pakistan's actions so incongruent with international expectations. Being unable to know that BL lived in Pakistan is one thing but punishing a person who helped in nabbing him entirely diiferent. Former is at worst incompetence and the later is at best insensitive!
M.FAAIZ Gilgity May 31, 2012 06:36am
USA shouldnt make interference in pakistans internal affairs...if USA is such an advocate of international law then why dont USA releases pakistani citizen Aafia sidiqi...
Allia May 31, 2012 06:57am
Yes and it is true the other way round too!
malik May 31, 2012 07:17am
Whoever has concocted this story deserves an Oscar.
Jilanee May 31, 2012 07:19am
With US as an ally no one needs an enemy
Ravi May 31, 2012 07:34am
Musharaff had at that time itself publicly stated 'it is a tactical move' to support USA. Any layman could make out that from all his subsequent moves. Why Americans still accepted Pakistan is a mystery.
Cyrus Howell May 31, 2012 08:01am
When Pakistan heard the government was to lose $33 million, Dr Afridi was suddenly convicted by the Fata tribunal for colluding with Mangal Bagh, leader of the Lashkar-i-Islam. Pretty thin.
Cyrus Howell May 31, 2012 08:13am
What Pakistan has shown the whole world is that it cannot be trusted. Hope you are not missing that?
Mahendra May 31, 2012 10:18am
Beneath the diplomatic talks that are quoted across, most of the people out side Pakistan have a firm belief that Pakistani army hide Osama (belief is the word not skepticism) and knew that the ones to be punished will be the ones who helped nab Osama.
Abbas May 31, 2012 09:28am
instead of calling media traitors, make a point in your argument.
shankar May 31, 2012 10:22am
Moin, if Dr.Afridi had sold Pakistan's military secrets to India, the punishment is understandable. He only helped nab an international terrorist! How is that treason? Besides, Pakistan is supposed to be NATO's ally, not foe!
NASAH (USA) May 31, 2012 12:33pm
A timely editorial but it still does not explain why the sudden somersault -- from treason for catching OBL to treason for helping, Mangal Bagh. Did it occur to anyone higher up how damaging it will be for Pakistan's image before the entire world -- as a cuckoo land.
Ali May 31, 2012 01:25pm
Or Vice versa
samar wylie tx May 31, 2012 01:40pm
Majority of pakistanies consider america is more greater enemy than india what a change.I like the title of the book by late ex president of pakistan ayub khan "FRIENDS NOT MASTER".
Akram May 31, 2012 02:00pm
Cyrus you know pretty well that Pakistan is not the only country in the world with a trust deficit. As if USA is the bastion of honesty and trustworthiness.Remember WMD anyone? Americas so-called trustworthiness has cost more lives and wreaked more havoc on this world than Pakistan can ever achieve. So give it a break will ya, its getting a bit tiring.
Ali Muhammad Khan May 31, 2012 02:02pm
Well No matter how much OBL was wanted & Notoriuos who gave this Dr Shakil the liberty to collude with a foreign Spy agency. Will US allow anyone this liberty in its own soil. Is Pakistani Soil less sacred ? Conviction of Dr Shakil is purely an internal matter of Pakistan & No one is allowed to enforce their will upon Pakistan or Coerce it. Dr shall pay for his deeds.
M. Asghar May 31, 2012 02:01pm
The basic problem is that Pakistan's geo-interests and those of US are at odd with each other, because US want to use Afghanistan as a base against it and China and this cannot be allowed for the future of the region. This story of the Doctor is part of the same game..
Akram May 31, 2012 02:02pm
If he was on the pay-roll of a foreign intelligence agency (CIA) he has to be punished.Period. Only with this precedent in place will future would-be helpers of the CIA be deterred.
Shah May 31, 2012 03:15pm
It is a laughing matter when you hear the new reasoning ,the same way as the Government Of Pakistan is a laughing stock. Shah
Guest May 31, 2012 05:48pm
The 'Doc' faked a vaccination program, for the sole purpose of obtaining DNA from children in the house. This in a country where those in most need of vaccination are already very suspicious of vaccines (Not entirely unreasonably). No matter how happy people are about gunning down OBL, Afridi is no hero. He is at best a mercenary, more likely a traitor, like America's Jonathon Pollard. He deserves jail.
Dr. D. Prithipaul May 31, 2012 06:12pm
How low can a nation sink in not knowing how to defend and preserve its national dignity when Pakistan reverses itself and proclaim Dr. Afridi's being innocent of treason just to reverse the American fine of $33 million!
MJD May 31, 2012 06:16pm
Dr. Afridi should be commended for helping bring justice to a man who is directly responsible for the death of thousands of Pakistanis... Is that not the definition of a patriot?
Usman Masood May 31, 2012 06:37pm
Write like an Editor Sir; not as a US aide ! Arbitrary allegations do not work. Back your argument with evidence. If you know who was supporting Mr Bin Laden, please provide the names so that they can be convicted. If you cannot, CIA will. So let things go the way they are. Don't get emotional. Relax!
Fred May 31, 2012 08:20pm
Had Pakistan ignored the good doctor or better yet announced that Pakistan was instrumental in bringing this world wide terrorist to justice the image and prestige of Pakistan in the eyes of the world would have improved. Instead Pakistan chooses to confirm to the world its government sides with and supports world wide terrorism even when the terrorists are killing, kidnapping and bombing the citizens of Pakistan. When will the people of Pakistan start asking why and hold the terrorists and there supporters responsible?
Aziz May 31, 2012 09:12pm
Shakil Afridi was running a fake medical program. Wired's public health reporter Maryn McKeena reports that 'only one of the three doses were delivered, the vaccination was effectively useless.' Lives of innocent children were endangered by this fraud. A doctor is supposed to save lives and not endanger them. He did it acting as a spy. Therefore he deserves multiple punishments. Who was the mastermind of this criminal venture? His trial should be in a proper judicial body with clear legal jurisdiction.
saeed May 31, 2012 10:18pm
no one asks the right question in OBL managed to live in pakistan for many years?
Kashmir Khan May 31, 2012 10:49pm
Every thing is painted.....preplanned game..
Tejbahadur May 31, 2012 11:53pm
Pakistan seems to be run by the corrupt and fanatic! How can a fully developed legit state behave like a petulant, immature and a myopic rogue nation? There i no consistency in what Pakistan says or does as a nation. It has become an embarrassment to all educated Pakistanis.
cautious May 31, 2012 11:53pm
No offense but sometimes Pakistan acts like a child having a tantrum -- logic doesn't apply - the tantrum controls everything. Fortunately kids grow up and quit having tantrums -- don't think that's an option for Pakistan.
P. Joseph Raju Jun 01, 2012 12:16am
Pakistan is making a big mistake before the world by sentencing Dr.Arfridi to 33 years in jail. Actually this will make him a great (or made him) world hero. It is for the interest for Pakistan only, someone in authority there commute his sentence and set him free. Then allow him to go anywhere he wants to live as a free citizien.
Ajaya K Dutt Jun 01, 2012 01:02am
That is what editorial is pointing out. Effort by Dawn and other "liberal" ( I should say Judicious) sources is worthy a salute and bow.
Jaihoon Jun 01, 2012 02:57am
No problem. Americans can bring Pakistani leader to their heel as the US dollars are the determining factor in the US-Pak relationship.
Aziz Wazir Jun 01, 2012 03:49pm
The editorial demands that the Dr ought to be treated in a regular court. Did all the tribal people not deserve the same treatment? Now we demand for external pressure to release it, then why not FCR should be finished? Terrorists, law enforcement agencies, drone attacks, army operation, all should be conducted under courts? Alas; the state consider tribal peoples on the same footing as the rest of the citizen.
Abbas Jun 01, 2012 04:48pm
I think Pakistan has caused plenty of havoc inside its own country, Afghanistan and Kashmir. People living in glass houses should not throw stones