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High court bars handing over of Dr Shakil to US

Updated February 28, 2019

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Ex-deputy attorney general moves court against ‘possible’ shifting of former agency surgeon abroad.— AFP/File
Ex-deputy attorney general moves court against ‘possible’ shifting of former agency surgeon abroad.— AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has ordered the federal government not to send former agency surgeon of Khyber Agency Dr Shakil Afridi abroad in case of any secret deal with the US government.

The orders were issued after a bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan accepted the petition of senior lawyer Mohammad Khursheed Khan against the ‘possible’ handover of Dr Shakil to the US.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan pronounced the order after the petitioner, Mohammad Khursheed Khan, completed his arguments contending that any move by the government to shift Dr Shakil abroad would be unconstitutional and illegal.

The petitioner, who is a former deputy attorney general, had filed the petition in 2017 when there were rumours that Dr Shakil might be shifted abroad and handed over to the US government.

Ex-deputy attorney general had moved court against ‘possible’ shifting of former agency surgeon abroad

While the petitioner had also prayed that Dr Shakil, who was imprisoned at Peshawar Central Prison at that time, should not be shifted from Peshawar.

However, he was shifted to Adiala Prison in Rawalpindi before being moved to the high-security Sahiwal Prison in Aug 2018.

The bench observed that as the prayer seeking directives for not shifting Dr Shakil from the Peshawar Central Prison had become infructuous, the bench would only accept the petition to the extent to direct the government not to shift Dr Shakil abroad.

Dr Shakil, a former agency surgeon of Khyber Agency, who was taken into custody in May 2011 on the suspicion of helping the American CIA trace Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad through a fake vaccination campaign, has been serving a 23 years prison term after he was convicted by an assistant political agent on the charge of having links with a banned militant outfit in 2012.

The petitioner requested the court to declare that if Dr Shakil is to be sent abroad, its permission should be secured beforehand.

He claimed that in 2017, the then adviser to the then prime minister on foreign affairs had said if the US formally put up a request, then Pakistan could consider the handing over of Dr Shakil to the US.

Khursheed Khan said Dr Shakil had carried out a fake vaccination campaign and had provided all relevant information to the US and thus, resulting in attack on Pakistan and killing of Osama bin Laden by them.

He said Dr Shakil was a convict, who had brought a bad name to the country, and that the government had no legal authority to send a convict abroad.

A petition of Dr Shakil against the upholding of his conviction by an appellate forum of the FCR commissioner has been pending with the defunct Fata Tribunal over four years without noteworthy progress.

The FCR Commissioner, which is the appellate forum under the FCR, had on Mar 15, 2014, had upheld the conviction of Dr Shakil for being linked to a banned militant organisation of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency but reduced his original prison term slapped by the assistant political agent’s court from 33 years to 23 years and that of the Rs320, 000 fine to Rs220, 000.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2019