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Shakil Afridi is not a hero, Pakistan tells US

24 October, 2013

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WASHINGTON: Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said Pakistan told US that Shakil Afridi had been involved in criminal activities and violated law of the land.

Speaking at a press briefing on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ongoing US visit, he said that Afridi was not a hero and was facing cases in courts.

While responding to questions after US congress committee on foreign affairs demanded release of Afridi, he said that courts would decide his fate. Jilani said that Pakistan had banned Lashkar-e-Taiba and any action against Hafiz Saeed could be taken only after availability of evidences.

He said that crucial issues were being discussed including drone attacks, regional stability, and trade during the visit.

Foreign Secretary said Pakistan and US authorities have had positive dialogues over investment in Pakistan's energy and other sectors.

He said that US trade delegations would soon visit Pakistan.

To a question about US missile strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, the high official said Islamabad considers the drone campaign as violation of international laws, and the issue would be on the agenda of forthcoming meeting between Obama and Nawaz Sharif.

The secretary said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had given satisfactory answers to the questions asked by US delegations during the meetings.

He said that US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted dinner in honour of the prime minister.

Earlier, a group of top United States lawmakers have urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to release Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who helped to track down Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

"I specifically pressed the Prime Minister to release Dr Shakil Afridi and encouraged him to ensure that his nation is in fact a responsible and effective partner in countering terrorism, proliferation and violent extremism in the region," Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

Afridi, who was arrested immediately after the May 2, 2011 operation by US commandos that killed bin Laden, was convicted for treason over alleged ties to militant group Lashkar-e-Islam.

Royce and Congressman Elliot Engel, Ranking Member of House Foreign Affairs Committee along with 15 members of this powerful Congressional committee met Sharif at the Rayburn House building at the US Capitol on Tuesday. "The house foreign affairs committee used this visit of the prime minister to engage in a frank and full discussion about a variety of issues critical to US national security," Royce said.

"We discussed promoting regional trade and greater trade with the United States. I also discussed the importance of education reform," the Republican Congressman from California said in a statement after the meeting.

A former co-chair of the influential Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, Royce in the past has been a vocal critic of Pakistan, mainly because of its inaction against terrorism, violent extremism and nuclear proliferation issues.

Sharif is in the US on a four-day official visit to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday. After arriving in Washington on Sunday, he has had a host of meetings with the top leadership of the Obama administration.

End.

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