Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pakistan: Attorney for Physician Who Alerted US About Osama bin Laden Quits Due to Death Threats

According to The Associated Press, the lawyer representing  Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani physician who helped the US government pinpoint the late Osama bin Laden said Sunday (May 11) that he could no longer represent Dr. Afridi due to death threats against he and his family.

Attorney Samiullah Khan Afridi said he made the decision after he received what he described as a "final" warning from militants. Attorney Afridi said he represented Dr. Shakil Afridi on humanitarian grounds, but said it is now impossible for him to continue. 
The attorney and the physician are not related.

The lawyer also said that the undue US pressure on Pakistan for his client's release also hurt him.

Dr. Shakil Afridi was initially sentenced to 33 years in prison in May 2012 after being convicted of providing money and medical treatment to Islamic militants in Khyber tribal region, not for helping the CIA track down bin Laden. Both Dr. Afridi's family and the Taliban have denied the allegations. 

A Pakistani court later reduced Afridi's sentence 23 years on appeal. 

COMMENT: In a world where everyone wants to see their name in print, the protection of lives is seemingly now passé.

If it had not been for Dr. Afridi's help, Osama bin Laden would still be with us, continuing to ferment his hate against Westerners.

Yet, tragically, Dr. Afridi's dedication, commitment to doing the right thing and the grave risks he took turned out to be meaningless as Islamic terrorism today is much greater than it was in 2011. Just look at Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, etc. 

As much as I hate to say it, Washington increasingly has become a consumer of people, rather than reciprocally helping those that risk their lives to assist the US government.

Eventually, no one will trust Washington's words. What a pity. A handshake actually used to mean something.

Rather than leaving Dr. Afridi  and his family vulnerable, Washington should have designed a strategy to spirit the doctor and his family out of Pakistan BEFORE the special ops raid on bin Laden's residence, knowing that he in all likelihood would be imprisoned for helping the US.

The US apparently felt it much more important to salvage what it could from its tattered relationship with Pakistan, although the end-result was that Dr. Afridi would spend the next 23 years of his life behind bars. By the time the good doctor is released, he will be an old man who no longer will be a healer.

Afridi is widely believed to have been targeted by Pakistani authorities because of his  running a bogus vaccination program that collected DNA in an attempt to verify Osama bin Laden's presence in the town of Abbottabad. 

In the eyes of the Pakistani government, Afridi was a traitor who had collaborated with a foreign spy agency in an illegal operation on Pakistani soil.

Now, here's the interesting part: In September 2012, the US State Department said that they would consider a prisoner exchange for Afia Siddiqui, but Pakistan refused the deal: