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Sunday February 25, 2024

Dr Shakil Afridi case: PHC directs Interior Ministry to submit reply

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Interior secretary to submit a reply in a writ petition against the expected handover of Dr Shakil Afridi to the United States.

September 27, 2018

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Interior secretary to submit a reply in a writ petition against the expected handover of Dr Shakil Afridi to the United States. A two-member bench comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim issued the notice to the secretary interior. He was directed to submit a reply to the questions raised in the petition before the next hearing.

The bench was hearing the petition filed by a senior lawyer, Muhammad Khurshid Khan. He had sought the court's directions for both the federal and provincial governments not to shift Dr Shakil Afridi to a foreign country or any other jail from Peshawar Central Prison, or inform the court before any such decision. The petition was filed in 2017 after rumours surfaced that the doctor might be sent abroad and handed over to the US government.

During the hearing, Khurshid Khan informed the court that Dr Shakil Afridi had been shifted to Punjab province during the pendency of the case. He said that in the petition, he had also requested the court to restrain the government from shifting Shakil Afridi from the Peshawar jail as not only his appeal against conviction is pending in the Fata Tribunal, but also he could be kept in the Peshawar jail legally.

He stated his handover to the United States would be a violation of law of the land.

The petitioner submitted that Shakil Afridi was convicted for links with terrorists and is a Pakistani citizen. How another country was demanding a jailed prisoner of Pakistan, he questioned. Dr Shakil Afridi, a former agency surgeon of Khyber Agency, who was taken into custody on May 22, 2011, on suspicion of helping Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) trace Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad.

He was imprisoned in the Peshawar Central Prison since his conviction by an assistant political agent on charges of having links with a banned outfit in 2012 and has been shifted, reportedly, to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi by the security forces. The petitioner has sought direction from the high court for the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments not to send Dr Shakil Afridi abroad till final disposal of the petition.

He requested the court to issue directives that permission from the high court should be sought if Dr Afridi had to be sent abroad. The petitioner claimed that he had come to know that the then adviser to the former prime minister on foreign affairs had said that if the US government requested them, then Pakistan government could consider handover of Dr Afridi to them.

He claimed that Dr Afridi had carried out a fake vaccination drive and provided all information to Americans that resulted in an attack on Pakistan and killing of Osama bin Laden in a US raid.

In the past, he said, in violation of the country's law, the ousted prime minister had gone to Saudi Arabia directly from the prison. He added that former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf had gone overseas despite the fact that various cases were pending against him in the courts and now he was flouting the rule of law from abroad.