ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) expressed concern on Sunday over the US government’s prisoner swap agreement with Pakistan, which called for a release of Shakil Afridi in exchange for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
Afridi helped the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hunt down Osama Bin Laden after which he was sentenced to 33 years in prison last year in May for his links to a banned militant group.
Aafia was sentenced to 86 years on September 23, 2010 after she was found guilty on seven counts, including attempted murder. She is currently being held at an American maximum security prison in Fort Worth, Texas. According to US prosecutors, the day after her arrest, she grabbed an M-4 rifle in her interrogation room and started shooting while yelling “death to America.”
The PTI press release said that there are “serious issues” with accepting the conditions laid down by the US for the release of Aafia.
The US government’s conditions to release Aafia dictates that Pakistan accept that she is a terrorist and should complete the remainder of her life sentence in Pakistan.
Moreover, the conditions state that Pakistan should accept that her trial in the US was fair and justified.
The PTI statement said that these conditions were unacceptable and hoped that the government would not accept any conditions forcibly asked for by the US government. It pointed out that US is under strong congressional pressure to seek the release of Afridi, who is termed “a collaborator of illegal US activities in Pakistan”.
The PTI added that if the prisoner swap agreement is to work it should not be based on any conditions.
“If the US insists on them, then there should a mutual agreement to label the swapped prisoners as ‘terrorists’ or ‘traitors’”.
Calling the US trial and conviction biased, the PTI release said that even though the people of Pakistan are eager for Aafia to return, they do not want to accept her as a terrorist simply at the behest of the US.