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Dr Shakil Afridi now to be probed for foreign links

Updated Mar 21, 2014 08:59am
Dr Shakil Afridi. — File photo
Dr Shakil Afridi. — File photo

PESHAWAR: In a new twist to the Dr Shakil Afridi’s controversy, an appellate forum under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) has directed the political agent of Khyber Agency to prepare a case against the doctor over involvement in anti-state activities in collusion with foreign intelligence agencies, for further proceedings before the competent court.

The direction has been issued in the detailed verdict on the appeal of Dr Shakil against his conviction for involvement in anti-state activities by supporting the Bara-based Lashkar-i-Islam. The details of the verdict given by the FCR commissioner, who upheld Dr Shakil’s conviction by an assistant political agent (APA) over links with a proscribed organisation in Bara, Khyber Agency, were released on Thursday.

“(The) Political Agent Khyber (Agency) is directed to further adduce the evidence in consultation with the concerned intelligence agencies and prepare a case against the appellant, both under Federal and provincial laws, for further proceedings in the competent court of law,” Commissioner Munir Azam wrote in the verdict.

While pronouncing a short order on March 15, the commissioner had upheld Dr Shakil’s conviction but reduced his sentence from 33 years to 23 years imprisonment and fine from Rs32,000 to Rs220,000 as in one of the sections of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) under which he was sentenced the APA was not empowered to conduct the said trial.

About the charges of having links with CIA, the APA had in his judgment of May 23, 2012, mentioned that there was ample evidence collected by the Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) against the appellant, Dr Shakil, regarding his involvement in activities against the state in collaboration with foreign intelligence agencies.

However, the APA had said the evidence could not be taken into account for the lack of jurisdiction and had recommended that it may be produced before the relevant court for further proceedings under the law.Dr Shakil, a former agency surgeon, was picked up allegedly by an intelligence agency in May 2011 on suspicion of helping the American CIA to trace Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by carrying out a fake anti-hepatitis vaccination campaign in Abbottabad.

However, he was not convicted on that charge and the APA/additional district magistrate convicted him on charges of being involved in anti-state activities by supporting the Bara-based Lashkar-e-Islam, and sentenced him on four counts to a total of 33 years imprisonment with fine of Rs320,000.

In the detailed order, the FCR commissioner also upheld the order of the APA that all sentences awarded to Dr Shakil should run consecutively and benefit of Section 382-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure was awarded to him which meant that his prison term should be counted since his arrest.

The commissioner turned down the arguments advanced by the appellant lawyers, including Case against Dr Shakil ordered over links with foreign agencies Samiullah Afridi and Qamar Nadeem Afridi, for directing the political agent to conduct fresh trial, and observed that in criminal adjudication there were rare precedents of retrial even if an erroneous judgment was passed by the trial court. “In the instant case the defense counsels failed to give substantive grounds for setting aside the decision of the lower court. In fact, the defense counsels have not raised even a single point for the acquittal of accused or reduction in sentence due to wrong application of law and facts.”

The commissioner ruled that as per Section 4 of the FCR, the APA/ADM was competent to exercise all or any of the powers of political agent as specified in the first Schedule of the FCR. “In the instant case, there is no evidence on record that the APA/ADM, Bara, the trial court, lacked jurisdiction.”

The appellate forum ruled that the record indicated that the criminal reference was properly filed against the appellant by the APA/ADM with the Council of elders (jirga) and, on receipt of findings of the council, passed an order under Section 11(3) of the FCR.