PESHAWAR: A former deputy attorney general has moved Peshawar High Court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying during his recent visit to the US he had stated that Dr Shakil Afridi could be swapped for Dr Afia Siddiqui, which was against a judgment of the high court.

The former DAG, Mohammad Khursheed Khan, filed the contempt of court petition, stating that the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan was against the judgment delivered by a two-member bench of the high court on February 26, 2019, wherein the government had made commitment that Dr Shakil Afridi would not be shifted to the US as no law existed for shifting a prisoner to other country.

The prime minister in an interview to an American TV channel had said that in Pakistan, he (Dr Shakil) was considered a spy and it was a very emotive issue there.

Petitioner says Imran’s statement about Dr Shakil’s swap with Dr Afia is against court judgment

“We also have someone in the US prison, a frail woman called Afia Siddqui and we could negotiate a swap,” the prime minster had said.

Dr Shakil Afridi, a former agency surgeon, who was arrested in May 2011 on charges of helping American CIA to trace Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination campaign, has presently been imprisoned in Sahiwal Jail.

He has been serving a 23-year prison term after he was convicted by an assistant political agent on the charge of having links with a banned militant outfit in 2012.

Mr Khursheed has earlier filed a writ petition in 2017 when there were rumours that Dr Afridi might be shifted abroad and handed over to the US government.

He had sought orders of the high court for the government against sending Dr Afridi abroad in case of any secret deal with the US government, claiming that it would be an unconstitutional step.

The petitioner had also prayed that Dr Afridi, who was at that time imprisoned in Peshawar Central Jail, should not be shifted from Peshawar. However, during pendency of his earlier petition, Dr Afridi was initially shifted to Adiala Prison in Rawalpindi and subsequently shifted to a high security Sahiwal Prison in August 2018.

A bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had accepted his petition after a deputy attorney general had told the court that there was no law in respect of shifting of any prisoner to other country.

In his contempt petition, Mr Khursheed contended that the court had made the federal government bound not to shift Dr Afridi to any other country. He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan in violation of the said judgment of the high court stated in the US that Dr Afridi could be swapped for Dr Afia Siddiqui. He claimed that by giving the statement, the prime minister intentionally undermined the prestige of the court despite the fact that the court had pronounced a clear order.

He requested the court to initiate proceedings against the prime minister and award him punishment under the law. It merits a mention that an appeal of Dr Afridi is pending before the high court against his conviction by the APA and upholding his conviction by the FCR Commissioner in 2014.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019