- Dr Shakil Afridi, the former Khyber Agency surgeon who colluded with the CIA in tracking down al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, has been handed down a 33-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 320,000 on charges of treason against the country and its people. In case of default, he will undergo further rigorous imprisonment for three years.
The punishment was announced by Mohammad Nasir Khan, assistant political agent of Bara, Khyber Agency, on Wednesday. The official said that Afridi’s trial had been in progress over the last three months at a secret place in Peshawar, and a court announced the verdict after taking the traditional tribal jirga into confidence. Dr Afridi, who belongs to Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency, had served under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA Health Directorate in various capacities. He ran a fake polio vaccination campaign in Abbottabad in collusion with the CIA to collect DNA samples from Bin Laden’s family members. Around 11 nurses of the Health Department have already been removed by the government.
Reacting to Afridi’s sentence, the US Defence Department said that Afridi had helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to operation against the al Qaeda chief, and that he had not committed treason towards Pakistan in any way. A spokesperson of the department said that Pakistan and the United States shared a common cause against terrorism and al Qaeda. The spokesperson said that the secretary had already stated that “it is a real mistake on Pakistan’s part”. After the verdict was announced, Dr Afridi was shifted to Peshawar Central Jail.
He has the right of appeal before the Khyber Agency political agent under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). The official said that Afridi had been tried under 121-Pakistan Penal Code (PPC)/11 FCR, 123 PPC/11 FCR, 123-A 1/PPC 11 FCR and 124-PPC/11 FCR. He said that all these sections pertained to: (1) involvement in treason against the country and its people; (2) help in treason; (3) misuse of official status; and (4) extending help to foreigners and contacts with the foreigners. Two months ago, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government fired Dr Afridi and his wife, who was serving as a professor at Education Department.