Outrageous injustice 58

That great injustice has been done by a court in Pakistan cannot come as a surprise, but it must be angrily deplored. A brave man, Dr. Shakil Afridi, who should receive honor and reward for carrying out an act beneficial to the whole world, including his own country, is instead to be punished for it, by imprisonment for 33 years.

AP reports:

A Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden was convicted of high treason Wednesday [today] and sentenced to 33 years in prison, officials said, a verdict that is likely to further strain the country’s relationship with Washington.

Could any strain be great enough to persuade the Obama administration that Pakistan is not an ally of the US?

[Dr. Shakil] Afridi was also ordered to pay a fine of about $3,500 and will spend an additional three and half years in prison if he does not …

Afridi was tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulations, or FCR, the set of laws that govern Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region. Human rights organizations have criticized the FCR for not providing suspects due process of lawThere is no right to legal representation, to present material evidence or cross-examine witnesses. Verdicts are normally handed down by a Khyber government official in consultation with a council of government elders.

Dr Shakil Afridi, at personal risk, helped to identify bin Laden.

Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence at the compound in the town of Abbottabad where U.S. commandos killed the al-Qaida chief last May.

The operation outraged Pakistani officials because they were not told about it beforehand.

Considering that bin Laden was sheltering under the wing of the Pakistani government, and that their secret services are buddies of the Taliban, it was not only sensible but essential to keep them ignorant of the plan.

Indeed the verdict, which treats Dr. Afridi’s courageous act as treasonous, proves that the Pakistani authorities are on the side of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

What is the US government going to do to help the man who, at his own peril, did such vitally important work for it?

Senior U.S. officials have called for Afridi to be released, saying his work served Pakistani and American interests. His conviction comes at a sensitive time because the U.S. is already frustrated by Pakistan’s refusal to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. The supply routes were closed six months ago in retaliation for American airstrikes [with helicopters]  that [mistakenly] killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

It is morally imperative that the US government bring all the pressure it can to bear on the Pakistani authorities to reverse the conviction of Dr. Shakil Afridi. But will the Obama administration do any such thing? To judge by its past form, the Obama administration is more likely to increase the aid it gives to Pakistan than to threaten it with punitive action.


(Hat-tip to reader and commenter Frank)