A Pakistani doctor, who was sentenced to 33 years in jail for helping CIA track down former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2011, may be rescued or killed in a “covert or overt operation”, officials have warned.
In a letter to federal authorities, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa government has warned of a severe life threat to Dr Shakil Afridi, lodged in the Central Prison in the provincial capital Peshawar.
The 50-year-old physician, who worked with the CIA on a fake vaccination operation to confirm the location of bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottobad, has been jailed for 33 years. In March, Afridi’s sentence was reduced by a decade to 23 years.
The Express Tribune reported that the letter written by provincial Home Secretary has conveyed the threat to the province’s Chief Minister, Inspector General of Police, Ministries of Defence, Interior, states and frontier region and Chief Secretary of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
“Focus of all the international media and superpowers is on him [Afridi] due to his suspicious role in Osama operation- plans to either kill him by his adversaries or his supporters [or] to rescue him through overt or covert operations have been hatched,” reads the letter.
It asked the federal government to shift Afridi to Punjab’s Attock Jail or to any other prison held by Pakistan Army and other forces. The letter claimed that militants have planned to carry out a vehicle-borne attack on this prison.
“His [Afridi] further presence in the K-P prison has not only endangered other prisoners’ and staffs’ lives but also put at risk the adjoining police lines, session courts and civil secretariat,” the letter said, adding that “his further confinement in any prison cell of the K-P may be catastrophic.”
The provincial government has argued that Afridi has been jailed for offences occurred in Fata as such his confinement is the responsibility of the ministry of the frontier region.
Ijaz Mohmand, a key member of Afridi’s legal team, told the daily that he agreed that his client’s life is in danger.
Afridi was arrested for running a fake vaccination campaign to confirm the presence of bin Laden before the former Qaeda chief was killed in a covert operation in 2011.