A DATE has been set for an appeal hearing in the case of Dr Shakil Afridi, and it should be used an opportunity to set things right. From its inception his trial has raised questions about the real intentions of the state. To begin with, if he was thought to be guilty of treason in helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination program, he should have been tried in an open court. But even within his trial under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, there are problems that should be addressed in appeal. Why haul him up under the FCR apparently for a crime committed outside its jurisdiction, only to convict him for allegedly colluding with Lashkar-i-Aslam instead? Media reports from Khyber Agency that deny such militant links, combined with the uproar in Washington, imply that the procedure followed and the charges filed may have been designed to keep the trial behind closed doors, keep Dr Afridi behind bars and relieve international pressure. So the validity of the conviction, and the long sentence handed down, need a close look during appeal, which will unfortunately take place behind closed doors again.

There is also the matter of a possible cut in US military aid for reasons that include the Afridi trial. It is true that the tenacity with which the Pakistani state has gone after a man who may have helped in the hunt for Osama bin Laden contrasts sharply with the lax justice meted out to many with real links to terrorism. But that is no justification for linking this matter to the aid programme. Whatever Washington’s concerns about the Afridi case, they should be discussed in that specific context. Slashing assistance in response, as one chamber of Congress voted to do on Wednesday, will simply be counterproductive. Using aid cuts as a tool to punish Pakistan only undermines the US administration’s attempts to repair relations and put them on a more stable basis. The case is an embarrassment for Pakistan, but allowing it to overshadow other features of the already fraught relationship will do anything but allow for the rebuilding of ties.

More From This Section

More than money needed

IF it weren’t for the history and the present context, it would have been a grand announcement. Balochistan, Prime...

Measuring poverty

POLITICALLY, poverty has been a sensitive issue in Pakistan, as it has been in many other developing countries. It ...

Lure of the blue passport

PASSPORT and visa issues continue to occupy our leaders. The latest evidence of this came on Friday when members of...

Yet another chance

WITH the government determined to have a dialogue with the TTP come what may, the rest of the stakeholders have...

Comments are closed.

Comments (14)

July 21, 2012 12:08 pm
If Shakeel Afridi is involve in this conspiracy then he should be hanged till death as soon as possible. He committed a serious crime. If he was punished then no one will support or work for any foreign intelligence agency in future. it is the matter of dignity of our home land Pakistan.
July 21, 2012 3:50 pm
Let the US have him, but only in exchange for Dr. Afia.
July 21, 2012 12:20 pm
Pakistanis also don't care about Americans, it was clear during nato supply route conflict
khurram janjua
July 21, 2012 4:54 pm
agree with shahid!
Siraj Khan
July 21, 2012 5:06 pm
Shakil Afridi behind bars is all drama and smoke screen. He will be out as soon as the dust settles down. Does anyone know where Hussain Haqqani is??
July 21, 2012 7:15 am
Since 1947 Pakistani's of many professions - politicians, journalists, soldiers have believed that they can achieve their goals by deception. But most of the world that matters (the US Congress for example) believes Pakistanis to be deceptive. Given that, is it really necessary to carry this drama about Dr. Afridi? Who exactly are you fooling and what do you gain by it? Has it gained Pakistan more territory? No. Has it made Pakistan richer? Only in illusion - real wealth comes from value you create, not from accepting handouts. And Pakistanis have that creativity. Why not live a honest life - success might be just around the corner!
July 21, 2012 4:28 pm
Keeping the door closed to the truth, while keeping the hand open to take money, is not a proper policy.
Cyrus Howell
July 21, 2012 8:53 am
Americans themselves no longer care about Pakistan. That will be reflected by Congress and the White House at election time.
July 21, 2012 12:53 pm
As a Pakistani and living in Pakistan, I sincerely URGE US to cut the aid and vow not to restore it EVER, as a matter of fact cut ties. As for this Corrupt Government of Pakistan: Afridi should be charged with assisting a foreign country and given a fair trial. Personally he should, if proved guilty, be given a life imprisonment without parole. Send a message to the world that we still have some DIGNITY left in us.
Kashif Khan
July 21, 2012 1:33 pm
Today hundreds of thousands of children are unable to get vaccinated against polio due to Dr. Shakeel Afridi's direct actions. His motives were purely materialistic as he was only after money. I hope he get proper punishment for that.
July 21, 2012 7:57 pm
Its well known fact that America is not a friend of anyone, everywhere they have interest of their own, its not American People, its the government, they are heading towards 3rd world war, I do not understand why Pakistan is getting involved in the war of Afghanistan and America, let those other countries enter and help America that have border with Afghanistan, It is spoiling our economy and is bringing terrorism to Pakistan, than they call Pakistanis as terrorist.
July 23, 2012 4:33 pm
But they desperately care about American $$$, as was clear during nato supply route conflict.
July 22, 2012 6:40 am
Not at all. Pakistan agreed to all US terms. US agreed to no Pakistan terms in order to reopen supply routes.
July 28, 2012 4:47 am
I really do not understand the link between Dr. Afridi and aid cut. The aid that Pakistan is getting is for the military operations that are being conducted. Besides, CIA has accomplished its objective so why would the U.S. deteriorate its relations with Pakistan. It isn't like Dr. Afridi is one of their own.
Explore: Indian elections 2014
Explore: Indian elections 2014
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
Front Page