PESHAWAR: Though there are threats to the life of Dr Shakil Afridi who was arrested after allegedly helping the United States to track down Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, he has been serving a fearless sentence in the prison.
Dr Afridi has been lodged in quarter No 81, which is a safe part of the prison, alongside the prisoners who are granted B-class facility.Official sources said the prison authorities had provided him essential items and cooking utensils for making his own food after he refused to eat the prison food due to fears that he may be poisoned.
The sources added that Dr Afridi cooked his own food and took extra care, particularly regarding whatever he was provided in the prison. Guarded by two prison policemen, Dr Afridi is living in a one-room quarter having a veranda and small kitchen. The sources said that due to fear of an attack by the militants, many of whom are in the same jail, he was not allowed to come out of his quarters. The sources claimed that until now Dr Afridi has no problem in his cell. The sources added that Dr Afridi has not made any demand for his shifting from the prison to another place.
However, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has time and again demanded the federal government to shift him somewhere else due to fears of militants’ attack and poisoning. Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain recently again asked the federal government to shift Dr Afridi to another province and to a more secure place because his “life is in danger in Peshawar jail.” But the Punjab and Sindh governments are not ready to take the burden as hosting him is a huge risk.
Mian Iftikhar warned that terrorists might launch an attack similar to the Bannu jailbreak in which they secured the release of over 300 prisoners, including many militants.On the other hand, his family members have expressed fears that Dr Afridi may become a victim of the tussle between Pakistan, United States and the terrorists. They were concerned that his fate was hanging in the balance.
Dr Afridi was sentenced on May 23 for 33 years in jail by an assistant political agent’s court in Bara, Khyber Agency after he was found guilty of committing crime in the jurisdiction of the tribal areas. He was convicted under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
Through his lawyers, he has filed an appeal against his conviction in the court of FCR commissioner. FCR Commissioner Tariq Jamil has fixed August 30 for hearing of the appeal Dr Afridi was reportedly picked up by an intelligence agency in May last year on suspicion of helping the CIA trace Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by carrying out a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad.