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Brother ‘not entitled’ to meet Dr Shakil

July 06, 2013

PESHAWAR, July 5: The authorities at the Peshawar Central Prison on Friday stopped brother from meeting Dr Shakil Afridi, saying only wife and children are entitled to meet the former agency surgeon in Khyber tribal district.

Relatives have been denied meeting with Dr Afridi for around 10 months.

The lawyer for Dr Shakil later said Jamil Afridi had again contacted the provincial home department for permission to meet his brother.

The prison authorities had restricted Dr Shakil’s meetings after the US Fox TV channel telecast an interview purportedly by him in Sept 2012.

In the interview conducted over the cellphone with the help of a prison guard, Dr Shakil had claimed that after the US operation in Abbottabad to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the Pakistani intelligence agencies kidnapped and tortured him and that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency considered the US its worst enemy.

Earlier, Mr Jamil met him on several times.

Dr Shakil has been kept in the prison since his May 2012 conviction by the assistant political agent in Bara tehsil for links with a militant outfit. A few days ago, Mr Jamil had formally requested the provincial home department to lift the ban.

That prompted the home department to seek opinion of the prison department, which recommended that only male members of the family be allowed to meet Dr Shakil once a month.

The prison department opposed the meeting between the female relatives and Dr Shakil, saying the jail authorities could face problems in body-searching women, who could accordingly take prohibited items to the premises.

Samiullah Afridi, lawyer for Dr Shakil, told Dawn that Jamil had been told by the home department to again visit it after a few days. He said when he reached the prison, he was informed that the home department had allowed only wife and children to meet Dr Shakil and that brothers were not entitled to the meeting.

Lately, the interior ministry had expressed inability to shift Dr Shakil from Peshawar to prison in any other province.

The federal government had informed the provincial home department that both Sindh and Punjab provinces had refused to accommodate Dr Shakil in any of their prisons.

Earlier, the provincial government had sent several letters to the interior ministry requesting it to shift Dr Shakil, saying it was difficult to keep him in the Peshawar Central Prison due to the growing threats to his life.

Dr Shakil was picked up allegedly by an intelligence agency in May 2011 on suspicion of helping the American CIA trace Osama bin Laden by carrying out a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad. However, he was not convicted for that matter and instead on May 23, 2012, the assistant political agent, Bara convicted him and sentenced him to 33 years imprisonment on different counts, including links with a militant organisation.

Dr Shakil’s appeal against conviction has been pending with the court of the FCR commissioner.