No chance of Shakil Afridi’s release over US pressure: FO

Published January 23, 2014
FO spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam. — File photo
FO spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday said there was no chance of Pakistan releasing Dr Shakil Afridi due to pressure from the United States, DawnNews reported.

A bill recently signed by US President Barack Obama proposes to withhold $33 million from assistance to Pakistan on account of Dr Afridi's detention.

Speaking to media representatives at the weekly media briefing, FO spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said the matter of Dr Afridi was sub judice, adding that he would not be released over American pressure.

Aslam added that Pakistan did not accept America's demand of Dr Afridi’s release in exchange of aid.

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 had also confirmed Afridi had worked for US intelligence by collecting DNA to verify Osama’s location.

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.

Regarding the incident in Mastung during which a Spaniard was injured, Aslam said Spanish authorities had been in touch with Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz and had expressed their gratitude over Pakistan’s efforts to protect Spanish citizens.

Aslam also apprised reporters of Wednesday’s meeting between Foreign Secretary Abdul Basit and India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr T. C. Raghavan. She added that during the meeting, the matters of trans-LoC trade and bus services and truck drivers came under discussion.

On the upcoming visit of the Indian trade minister Anand Sharma to Pakistan, Aslam said Pakistan was not aware of the dates.

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