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Pakistan Will Not Release Dr Shakil Afridi

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Posted by on Friday, January 24, 2014, 11:37
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Pakistan on Thursday ruled out the possibility of releasing Dr Shakil Afridi, who had helped the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in tracking down the world’s most wanted man, at the request of the United States.

Tasnim Aslam

Tasnim Aslam

“There is no possibility of Dr Shakil Afiridi’s release at the US’ request. The matter is sub judice,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam at her weekly news briefing here.

Her reaction came in response to a recent move by US Congress withholding $33 million aid for Pakistan until the release of Afridi.

Earlier this week, Islamabad voiced its disappointment of the US bill in a statement and described the condition as against the ‘spirit of cooperative’ relationship between the two countries.

It also insisted that Afridi is Pakistani citizen and has been accused of violating the country’s laws.

“If the courts exonerate him, that would be a different matter. But he has been convicted and the review process is taking place,” she said.

Afridi launched a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad just weeks before the US commandos raided bin Laden’s hideout.

In response to a question, Tasnim said Pakistan might raise the issue of linking aid with Afridi’s release at the upcoming ministerial level strategic dialogue scheduled to take place in Washington next week. “This issue [of Afridi] could be taken up in the context of the linkage that has been made between the allocation of $33 million with Dr Shakil Afridi’s detention,” she said.

The ministerial meeting under the strategic dialogue is the first since 2010 when the process was suspended due to a variety of reasons including the US secret raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The meeting will be jointly chaired by Prime Minister’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Deadlock on LoC Trade

The spokeswoman said Pakistani and Indian authorities were in contact with each other to resolve the issue of suspension of the Muzzafarabad-Sri Nagar and Poonch-Rawalakot bus service.

She denied reports that Pakistani authorities arrested 27 truck drivers from the Indian-held Kashmir.

“The drivers from IOK have not been arrested. They have only been stopped on this side. 49 trucks from AJK have been detained on the other side.”

“We are very keen that trade between Pakistan and India and intra-Kashmir trade across the LoC takes place smoothly. We also summoned the Indian counselor to the ministry just before our deputy high commissioner was called into their Ministry of External Affairs essentially in an effort to resolve the deadlock,” she added.

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