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Is it like 'US Way' Or 'No-way'?

05 June, 2012

By Maimuna Ashraf


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The US Congress and Obama Administration both are yet again raising voices for the sanctuary of a jailbird, as before they have shown this motion for Raymond Davis. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor has been convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping CIA to pin down Osama Bin Laden's location under the cover of fake vaccination drive.

According to a 2002 health department document seen by Reuters, Afridi was deemed to be corrupt, unreliable and unfit for government service. In recent interviews, several current and former Pakistani officials described the doctor Afridi, as a hard-drinking womanizer who had faced accusations of sexual assault, harassment and stealing. They said his main obsession was making easy money. Though a doctor should have a sky-scraping character but lets not focus more on this argument to attest him culpable because there would be many having traits like Dr. Afridi. Moreover it has been revealed by many researchers that spy agencies usually look out for people to hire who have psychological weaknesses like too tender to women, alcohol and motivated by easy money making.

There are many other arguments which are more interested to be highlighted like why is he a hero? Did he know he was helping CIA in trapping OBL? Is it legal to run a fake vaccination programme? Is it permissible to help a foreign intelligence agency without state permission? Are we going to watch a Raymond Davis like episode? US officials have hailed Afridi as a hero for helping to pinpoint bin Laden's location in Abbottabad, where the al Qaeda leader was eventually killed in May last year in a raid by US Navy SEALs. US officials called the accusations a character assassination. US official declared that "Dr Afridi was inadvertently able to confirm something we already suspected – that bin Laden's couriers practiced extraordinary operational security." It is strange that a person has been declared 'hero' by the world policeman since he was not aware what he is doing, he was unaware that he was on 'heroic mission' for helping CIA in catching OBL, and all he was doing was just doing for money!

US chose Dr. Afridi to run the plot of fake vaccination programme to get DNA from the suspected OBL compound. The doctor went to Abbottabad in March, saying he had procured funds to give free vaccinations for hepatitis B. By passing the management of the Abbottabad health services; he paid generous sums to low-ranking local government health workers, who took part in the operation without knowing about the connection to Bin Laden. Health visitors in the area were among the few people who had gained access to the Bin Laden compound in the past, administering polio drops to some of the children. In March health workers administered the vaccine in a poor neighborhood on the edge of Abbottabad called Nawa Sher. The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given in three doses, the second a month after the first. But in April, instead of administering the second dose in Nawa Sher, the doctor returned to Abbottabad and moved the nurses on to Bilal Town, the suburb where Bin Laden lived. DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present. In Washington, another senior US official with knowledge of Afridi's work for the CIA said that the doctor's vaccination efforts had also enabled him to gather intelligence on bin Laden's couriers who visited the house.

On this fake vaccination drive, doctors without Borders (MSF for Medecins sans Frontieres), which has teams in a number of Pakistani and border provinces, released a statement saying the fake campaign interferes with health care and endangers health workers: "The mere suggestion that the provision of medical care was carried out under false pretenses damages public perception of the true purpose of medical action," said Dr. Unni Karunakara, MSF's international president. "With all populations in crisis, it is challenging enough for health agencies and humanitarian aid workers to gain access to, and the trust of, communities—especially populations already skeptical of the motives of any outside assistance. The risk is that vulnerable communities — anywhere — needing access to essential health services will understandably question the true motivation of medical workers and humanitarian aid. The potential consequence is that even basic health care, including vaccination, does not reach those who need it most."

US say Pakistan citizen Dr. Shakeel Afridi was not working against Pakistan & helped against terrorism and thus his conviction is inexplicable! US should know that Dr. Fai was also not working against United States and was helping Pakistan against Indian terrorism in Kashmir! If Fai's arrest is fine, why is it wrong for Afridi, a Pakistani who willingly worked for a foreign government and delivered fake and incomplete polio vaccinations to Pakistani children?

US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced legislation in February calling for Afridi to be granted US citizenship and said it was "shameful and unforgivable that our supposed allies" charged him. US strapping response over the detention of Dr. Afridi is strange. Though US itself will give more strict punishment if he finds its citizen spying for some foreign country, in fact US jailed Jonathan Jay Pollard for life who was found guilty of spying in USA for its closest ally Israel.

Dr. Shakeel Afridi is traitor how can a government paid employee work for a CIA American agency. He could provide this information to ISI or government of Pakistan and could save Pakistan from embracement. He was working for money. He could have been spying on any sensitive national interest for the sake of money. Just because the target turned out to be OBL we should celebrate him? Someone freelances as spy for foreign intelligence(friendly)agencies, runs fake health campaign, takes DNA samples from unsuspecting individuals and we should believe that no law of the land was broken?

In their usual response, the lawmakers in Washington have voted to cut aid to Pakistan for the umpteenth time and some in Congress are proposing to honor Afridi as a hero for his help in killing Osama bin Laden. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has also chimed in and demanded Afridi's immediate release. It seems that whatever the arguments are, there would be one of these three expected scenarios, First, Dr. Afridi will not spend 33 years in jail, Second, He will be relocated in US and will happily live off the bounty money and Third, entire Pakistan can't do anything about it. Let us call spade a spade. They did it because they could do it but let us stop finding most bizarre and lamest of legal and ethical excuses in favour of it. We should stop believing that there is always US way and no other way!


(Maimuna Ashraf is defence analyst associated with the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad)

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