Pak aid groups suspect in raid

In the shadows of the American operation that killed Osama bin Laden,the fate of a small-town Pakistani doctor recruited by the CIA to help track the Qaeda leader still looms between the two countries

Written by New York Times | Peshawar | Published:May 4, 2012 1:21 am

DECLAN WALSH

In the shadows of the American operation that killed Osama bin Laden,the fate of a small-town Pakistani doctor recruited by the CIA to help track the Qaeda leader still looms between the two countries.

Picked up by Pakistani intelligence agents days after the Osama raid and now in secret detention,the doctor,Shakil Afridi,has embodied the tensions between Washington and Islamabad. To some American officials he is a hero,worthy of praise and protection,but inside Pakistan’s powerful military,he is seen as a traitor who should face treason charges.

His case has also roiled Pakistan’s humanitarian community,giving rise to a wave of restrictions that have compromised multimillion dollar aid operations serving millions of Pakistanis.

Hardest hit is Save the Children,the largest international aid agency in Pakistan.

Afridi has told ISI interrogators that he was introduced to the CIA through Save the Children,according to Pakistani officials and Western aid workers. Save the Children vigorously denies this,saying it has been made a scapegoat by a desperate man who,according to senior American officials,has been tortured in Pakistani custody. Nevertheless his claims have had a stark impact on an organisation that says it spent $105 million last year helping seven million Pakistanis.

Senior managers have been forbidden from leaving the country,other staff members have been refused visas,and aid supplies have been blocked by customs officials,depriving an estimated 35,000 infants of medical care over a three-month period. Pakistani intelligence has monitored the phone calls and residences of Save the Children staff.

Afridi was recruited “several years” ago,a US official said,with instructions to collect information on Osama’s network. In Abbottabad,however,Afridi was asked to set up a vaccination camp take blood samples from the inhabitants of Osama’s house,to get DNA evidence.

Ultimately,though,Afridi failed to establish Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad or gather DNA. He did,however,establish contact with Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti,the “courier” who guarded Osama.

Working with US to resolve all issues: Pak
Islamabad:
Amidst reports that it is mulling possible compromises in its efforts to obtain an apology from the US for a cross-border NATO air strike,Pakistan on Thursday said it was working with Washington to find an alternative to drone strikes. “There is a need to resolve all issues with the US,” Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said.

PTI

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