IN an already enigmatic case, a mysterious piece of reporting has appeared that carries potentially disruptive implications for Pakistan’s most tortuous bilateral relationship. The interview of the jailed Dr Shakil Afridi that has been published on the Fox News website and is highly critical of the ISI prompts many questions: where and how was it carried out? How did the reporter gain access to the doctor? When Dr Afridi spoke to the reporter, was he aware that he would be quoted in a widely available interview, and did he do so willingly despite knowing he would still be at the mercy of Pakistani police and intelligence the next day? Knowing the answers to these is important because, for one, the fate of Dr Afridi has become a point of disagreement between Pakistan and the US, and the authenticity and reliability of such sensitive reporting on the issue needs to be established. Second, Dr Afridi appears to make broad claims about the ISI’s strategies, tactics and militant links, and it is unclear what qualifies him to do so.  A domestic audience may be able to determine how much is speculation and how much fact, but internationally, his words will be taken as further evidence of Pakistani duplicity whether or not they are rooted in actual knowledge of the ISI’s links and actions.

Much of this could have been avoided if Dr Afridi had had access to a fair and transparent judicial process. Instead, carried out under the Frontier Crimes Regulation and charging him with crimes that had nothing to do with the Abbottabad raid, his trial has only given rise to suspicions at home and abroad that the goal of the Pakistani authorities is to detain him one way or another. It has also raised legitimate questions about why they want to do so despite Dr Afridi being either unaware of his role in the plot or, even if he was aware, helping to capture an enemy of both Pakistan and the US. Sadly, it is Pakistan’s own dubious treatment of Dr Afridi that has left it vulnerable to the further accusations that this interview will lead to.

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Comments (8)

Iqbal
September 12, 2012 5:09 am
Our legal system is flawed and justice is delayed.... I won't call him a doctor... let's call him Shakil Afridi... Shakil Afridi must have been intelligent enough to avoid leaving any evidence behind... in a legal system that works solely on evidence, it would be hard to prove....
Feroz
September 12, 2012 7:47 am
I believe every word what Dr Afridi said but I have my doubts that he was aware he was giving an interview to a journalist of a foreign publication. The jail authorities were of course caught with their pants down because they would not have condoned any interview with any journalist.
NASAH (USA)
September 12, 2012 5:30 am
I don't know why I have a lingering fear that one day Dr. Afridi may be found dead due to natural causes.
malik
September 12, 2012 4:18 am
I believe in what he said .
Noman
September 12, 2012 7:10 am
The last part of this editorial is also 'speculative' and may add further fuel to the fire. This kind of speculation is not fitting to a newspaer like Dawn.
Iftikhar Husain
September 12, 2012 12:03 pm
Anything is possible in Pakistan one can always bribe anyone to get the things done. Now it is up to us to sort the trouble out.
Noman
September 12, 2012 9:28 am
One has the right to point out any irregularity in judicial or investigative process carried out by the authority, but we generally forget to condemn the act committed by Mr. Afridi i.e. having links with a foreign intelligence agency. Balanced analysis is always a casualty.
M. Asghar
September 12, 2012 6:53 am
The Editorial should have considerd the option that this interview may very likely be a fabrication of the Fox News disinformation mills.
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