Pakistan annoyed at US bill linking aid to Dr Afridi’s release

Published January 21, 2014
Dr Shakil Afridi. – File Photo
Dr Shakil Afridi. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday expressed disappointment on a bill signed by US President Barack Obama proposed to withhold $33 million from assistance on account of Dr Shakil Afridi's detention.

The Consolidated Appropriations Bill 2014, approved by US Congress, was signed into law by President Obama on January 17. As an omnibus legislation, it contains respective Appropriation Bills for all Government Departments, including the Department of Defence and the Department of State.

The State Department will now undertake the process of making allocations, including those for Pakistan.

Spokesperson of the Foreign Office, Tasneem Aslam in a statement said Dr Shakil Afridi, a citizen of Pakistan, is accused of having violated the country's laws.

She said that his action also caused immense damage to the polio campaign in the country, adding that his case is subjudice and he remains entitled to due process under the law.

Dr Afridi had helped the CIA by running a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad a month before the US forces raid on a compound that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. Then-US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Afridi had worked for US intelligence by collecting DNA to verify bin Laden’s presence.

The doctor was convicted of treason under Pakistan's tribal justice system in 2012 – not for working for the CIA, for which the court said it had no jurisdiction, but for alleged ties to militants.

He was initially sentenced to 33 years in jail and given a fine, but a court in Peshawar overturned his sentence in August last year and ordered a retrial.

The FO spokesperson further said that consequently, any linkage of US assistance to this case is not in keeping with the spirit of cooperation between the two countries.

She said Pakistan and the United States are engaged in building a close, cooperative relationship, based on mutual respect and mutual interest.

“It is our hope that this process would continue to move forward in a constructive manner, she added.

‘Govt won’t take dictation’

Earlier in the day, Leader of the House in the Senate, Raja Zafarul-Haq assured the house that the government will not take dictation from inside and outside the country to run its affairs.

“We are sovereign nation and would not take dictation from outside and inside the country to run the government affairs,” he said responding to a point of order Monday.

On the point of order, PPP leader Raza Rabbani asked the government to call joint session of the parliament to discuss policy on terrorism.

“Joint session of the parliament should be called on the issue of terrorism as All Parties Conference was not substitute of the joint session,” he said.

“We strongly condemned US decision as it was against the sovereignty of the Pakistan,” said Rabbani.

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