- FO spokesperson says no ‘deal’ underway on Dr Shakil Afridi
The US Department of State on Thursday rejected the reports of any deal with Pakistan over a possible exchange of Hussain Haqqani, wanted in Pakistan over memogate scandal, with Dr Shakeel Afridi for his alleged involvement in helping CIA track Osama bin Laden.
The denial comes after media reports that the director general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had told the Supreme Court that the American authorities were contacted regarding Haqqani’s extradition and that the Americans said: “you too have our man.”
The US State Department weighed in declaring that it does not comment on pending or potential extradition requests, or confirm or deny that an extradition request has been made. “The extradition process in the United States is governed by relevant treaties and domestic statutes,” the State Department spokesperson said.
“It is not used to ‘trade’ prisoners,” the spokesperson added.
Talking to a private news outlet, Haqqani said, “It is unfortunate that a lie has been told before the Supreme Court instead of admitting honestly that I cannot be forced to return under the international law.”
Earlier, the Foreign Office of Pakistan also clarified its position saying that there was no deal being made with the US to hand over Shakeel Afridi in exchange for Husain Haqqani.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said on Thursday that no deal is underway between Pakistan and anyone else as far as Dr Shakil Afridi is concerned.
Dr Faisal, during his weekly press briefing, stated that the Interior Ministry is handling Dr Afridi’s issue.
Dr Shakil Afridi, hailed as a hero by US officials, was arrested after US forces killed bin Laden in May 2011 in a secret raid in a northern Pakistani town that plunged relations between the uneasy strategic partners to a new low.
Pakistan has accused the doctor of running a fake vaccination campaign in which he collected DNA samples to help the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) confirm bin Laden’s identity.
Afridi was arrested soon after the bin Laden raid and charged with having ties to militants, which he denied. “The law is taking its course and Afridi is having full opportunity of a fair trial,” a private newspaper quoted Law Minister Zahid Hamid as telling the upper house, in response to a lawmaker’s query about reports of a possible release.
In 2012, Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison after being convicted of being a member of militant group Lashkar-e-Islam. That conviction was overturned in 2013, but Afridi was then charged with murder, relating to the death of a patient eight years earlier. He remains in jail awaiting trial.
Pakistan joined the US war on militancy after September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. But US officials often describe Islamabad as an unreliable partner that has sheltered the Afghan Taliban leadership and demand tougher action against militant groups based along its border with Afghanistan.