Afraid of Freeing Afridi

(Illustration by Monte Bernal,

Shakeel Afridi is a Pakistani-American physician and a CIA informant who created a false vaccine program in Pakistan. By collecting DNA samples via this made up program, and then turning the samples over to the CIA, U.S. forces were able to confirm the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. This information led to the raid on bin Laden’s residence and thus to the death of the cowardly terrorist leader. After the raid, while attempting to flee Pakistan, Afridi was arrested and sentenced to 33 years in prison for alleged connections to a banned militant group.

Supporters of Afridi claim that he is being held simply because he helped the U.S. kill bin Laden, and not because of any connections to a militant group. Family members of Afridi fear for his life after learning that he has been severely tortured in prison. Afridi’s brother Jamil asked FOX News, “Why is it taking [America] so long to help us? We think that they (America) won’t help. We don’t have any hope left.”

It will be interesting to see how the new Secretary of State John Kerry handles this dilemma while attempting to maintain good relations with Pakistan. At Kerry’s confirmation hearing in January, Senator Rand Paul recommended cutting off all aid to Pakistan until Afridi is released from prison. Kerry responded, “We need to build our relationship with the Pakistanis, not diminish it.” Kerry did note that it is incomprehensible that this heroic doctor has been imprisoned.

Afridi’s brother told FOX News that his family has no money but deserves a response after the valiant actions taken by his brother. Family members wonder if Afridi is even still alive at this point. Some of the family members have even expressed that they would prefer for Afridi to remain in prison, due to the fear of retaliation upon his release.

I feel that the U.S. owes it to Afridi to get him out of prison as soon as possible. I understand the need to maintain stable relations with Pakistan, but we are speaking of a hero who played a major part in the death of the ‘man’ who claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. I do not agree completely with Senator Paul that we should cut off all aid to Pakistan, but we should definitely take drastic measures to assure the safe release of Afridi. What do you think the U.S. should do in this situation? Should the U.S. be willing to violate international law to free this hero?

Source: FOX News

One comment

  1. Pakistan perfectly encapsulates the adage “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” It is still amazing to me that the man who occupied the #1 spot on the F.B.I.’s Most Wanted List was living in a house in a semi-populated area down the street from the Pakastani Military Academy. And no one “knew” for years. Regardless, Dr. Afridi risked his life to help the C.I.A. kill the man responsible for the murders of thousands of Americans. And if he was tied to a militant group, does it matter anymore?
    I am sure there are Pakastanis that are unhappy about Bin Laden being killed by the United States in their country. I think retaliation is a real possibility and perhaps Pakistan and the United States realizes this and keeping him in prison is a better option all around. I do not agree with Sen. Rand either. Cutting off all aid turns public sentiment against the United States even more. I think releasing Afridi, and I am not sure where he would go, would be a good political move for both Pakistan and Secretary Kerry. I am sure Seal Team Six, however, is up for the job if need be.

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