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  • Pakistan Takes Short-sighted Approach to Relations with the U.S.

    Jamil Afridi (L), the elder brother of jailed Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi who was recruited by the CIA to help find Osama bin Laden, addresses journalists during a news conference in Peshawar on May 28, 2012.

    Pakistani military officials took serious offense at the U.S. unilateral raid in their country last May to eliminate the world’s most wanted terrorist. With last week’s prosecution of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who assisted the U.S. government in tracking bin Laden, Pakistani leaders appear to be trying to restore their wounded pride and reassert Pakistani sovereignty. More likely, such short-sighted actions will only denigrate Pakistan’s international image and make it more difficult to convince the international community Islamabad is determined to fight—not facilitate—terrorism.

    Dr. Shakil Afridi was picked up by the Pakistani authorities a few weeks after the May 2, 2011, raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Dr. Afridi, at the behest of the U.S., apparently led a phony vaccination campaign in Abbottabad in an attempt to secure DNA evidence from the residents living inside the bin Laden compound.  Afridi was unable to obtain the samples, but U.S. officials have acknowledged he provided information that helped U.S. officials locate bin Laden.

    A Pakistani tribal court last week sentenced him to 33 years in jail. Media reports today say the tribal court convicted him – not for cooperating with the U.S. government – but for cooperating with militants in the tribal border areas.  The Pakistani authorities almost undoubtedly have trumped up charges against Afridi to cast doubt on his character and to try to make it harder for the U.S. to defend him. More likely, Pakistani ham-handedness will only further infuriate American officials.

    The U.S. has an obligation to do all it can to help secure Dr. Afridi’s safe release. Some media reports indicate that Dr. Afridi may have turned down an offer from the U.S. government to leave the country immediately after the bin Laden raid. While, in hindsight, his decision was terribly ill-advised, Afridi says he never imagined he would be punished for helping to locate the architect of 9/11.

    The sentencing of Afridi is the latest irritant in a string of problems facing U.S.-Pakistan relations. In handing out such a lengthy prison sentence to Afridi, Pakistan is demonstrating that it is taking an increasingly short-sighted approach to relations with the U.S. Pakistani military officials must stop viewing the bin Laden raid as a slight, and instead recognize the threat terrorists pose to their own country’s future. On-going tensions between Pakistan and the U.S. put both countries at a disadvantage vis a vis the terrorists. The Afridi case is a distraction from the real work that needs to be done.

    Pakistan’s prosecution of Dr. Afridi on trumped up charges not only reflects poorly on Pakistan’s counterterrorism credentials, it makes a mockery of rule of law in the country. In trying to redeem their sovereignty, Pakistani leaders are instead reinforcing why the U.S. acted unilaterally against bin Laden in the first place and why international trust in Pakistan’s commitment to fighting the terrorist scourge remains elusive.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Pakistan Takes Short-sighted Approach to Relations with the U.S.

    1. jon says:

      It may work out..

    2. Paul Terry Stone says:

      If Pakistani leaders want to reassert their wounded pride, they don't need our money and we certainly have good use for it to pay part of our own debt.

    3. Jenny says:

      Ah… the article exhibits poor logic, and is distant from facts … Afridi was sentenced for keeping ties with a banned outfit … he shall be tried for treason in another case for helping the CIA but that is quite fair by the laws of any country – he was supposed to tip the local authorities who previously had no qualms in revealing intelligence gathered on the courier that was later squeezed for information nearing the investigation to his capture, but we love to jump the gun don't we? It is just crazy how the writer justifies Afridi playing a role that won't be allowed in the US itself. Furthermore, the country that has been doing our dirty work for decades against which we only have speculations and no evidence linking them with supporting OBL even from the treasure trove obtained from the raided compound is like pushing them against the wall … and again and again … now objecting to the application of local laws in their country (which we should not poke our nose in) and previously killing their 24 soldiers in broad day without rendering any apology. Do we have no balance of mind left at all??!!

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