News / USA

Some Accuse US of Hypocrisy Over Pakistan Doctor Case

Jim Randle
Tensions rose higher between Pakistan and the United States this week after a tribal court gave a long prison term to a Pakistani doctor who tried to help U.S. forces gather information about Osama bin Laden.  American forces later killed the terrorist, and the doctor's actions angered many Pakistanis.  Some critics say the case of Dr. Shakil Afridi has some parallels to the plight of a U.S. citizen who sold U.S. secrets to Israel, and who is serving a life term in an American prison.

U.S. forces found and killed Osama bin Laden after Dr. Shakil Afridi gathered some information for them.  He was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign designed to help the CIA collect DNA from bin Laden's family in the town where bin Laden was hiding.

Pakistan charged Afridi with treason and Interior Minister Rehman Malik says the judge's decision should be respected.

"The person happened to be a traitor, the person happened to be before the court.  The court has obverted, the court has taken the due process of law, and accordingly he has been convicted. So we have to respect our courts," Malik said.

"The U.S.  does not believe there is any basis  for holding Dr. Afridi," said  U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who pressed Pakistan to release Afridi.

Angry members of the U.S. Congress voted in favor of cutting  U.S. aid to Pakistan by $33 million -- one million for every year of Afridi's sentence.

Some analysts say the case of Johnathan Pollard shows Washington has an inconsistent policy.  Pollard was convicted of selling U.S. secrets to Israel and sentenced to life in prison.  Washington has rejected Israeli pleas to release Pollard.

But the Middle East Institute's Marvin Weinbaum says those who accuse Washington of hypocrisy have a superficial view of the situation;  Pollard cost the United States some of its most closely-guarded secrets, while Dr. Afridi worked against a threat to both the United States and Pakistan.

You have to look at what in fact was the purpose of the action.  Was it just simply to help a foreign country, or was it to do something to serve the interest mutual interest of the two countries?

Shuja Nawaz, a scholar with the Atlantic Council in Washington, says Pakistan does not see it that way. "They see it as the subversion of a Pakistani citizen and his  willing participation in an act that was to support the United States intelligence operations inside Pakistan," Nawaz said.
Weinbaum says the further souring of U.S.-Pakistani relations is unfortunate because it keeps the two nations from working together on shared interests.

Both analysts say  if relations improve in the future, the two nations might find a way to make a deal to reduce Dr. Afridi's sentence.

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Comment Sorting
by: mrd
May 29, 2012 2:11 AM
US double standards and pontification makes Orwell's Animal Farm very apt in this saga. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others. Why is Pollard still serving a LIFE sentence? Why was Bradley Manning charged with treason on suspicion of having passed classified material to WikiLeaks? A verdict of treason against Manning could result in the death penalty. So why should Pakistan, or any other nation, respond differently to the US in matters of treason? Should the US practice what it preaches.... an interesting question for sadly a power in fast decline.
In Response

by: DM
May 29, 2012 10:24 AM
How could this man commit treason when the Pakistani government claims that they are fighting these so called terrorists? Pakistan received many dollars apparently to quash fundamentalist terrorists? How then could one of their citizens engaging in activity his own government purports to be engaging in be considered treasonous ? Pakistan should return every penny given over the past decade or release this man. No treason can occur if the stated goals of the government are followed by its citizens. Governments should clearly tell all citizens to ignore what they say -because what they say is a lie - evidently. Now if the governments are not telling the truth about terrorism -how bad are the terrorists? Who then is the enemy?

by: DM
May 28, 2012 5:38 PM
Lesson - dont help any government with their phony BS – let the dogs kill each other and stumble around in the dark -its what they are good at– the rest of us should just stand clear and watch the show unfold. If governments are to lame to deal with this sort of threat -bin idiot– they should have their budgets slashed hard core. What an amateur side show circus – with friends like Americas no wonder they have so many threats

by: Muhammad NaIya from: Nigeria
May 28, 2012 4:11 PM
Perhaps it would have been easier if Dr. Afridi were a US citizen who did this for a foreign power? The Dr. committed a felony against his own Country most probably for the $ he was promised or expected to recieve, let him have his comeuppance! The more worrying aspect is that smaller nations will now have far more difficulties getting their populations to accept and agree on vaccines such as the polio issue now facing difficulties. The US was certainly wrong to have resorted to the use of a Medical assistance programme for her never ending war-on-terror!

by: vince from: washington DC
May 28, 2012 11:20 AM
What is missing in that Afridi was tried by order of ISI, Pakistani military intelligence, which was hiding fact they knew exactly where bin Laden was an protected him.

There is no equivalence to the Pollard case in which he was prosecuted for espionage. Pollard was paid by the Israelis and China for his stolen classified information.

by: Padd O from: Phoenix USA
May 27, 2012 7:02 PM
Oh, I wouldn't worry too much about the token Israeli spy. Somehow I imagine he's having quite a comfortable life. As for the poor doctor, whether it be because of naivety and/or money, he chose to break the laws of his country and work for a foreign government. He was probably misled on what the consequences would be for violating his obligations as a citizen and medical ethics, but that excuse doesn't hold up well in American courts either.

by: Jasha from: California
May 27, 2012 12:36 AM
If the suggestion is that the US should release Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Pakistan releasing Afridi I think plenty of people would be happy to support that.
In Response

by: Anonymous
May 28, 2012 6:09 AM
I would also support that decision, but there is no telling what harm that man has caused the United States in his clearly treasonous acts. At the same time, the man in their prison has ultimately performed a service for the world, our country and his own. Though I can't say what their laws are, we should respect them if we expect their nation to respect our laws. It's a tough political situation but one I would say has a more negative impact on Pakistan (world view) than it would America. We are fighting for his release within our power and I am sure Hillary and others will continue to do so.

by: George Aston from: Florence, Al
May 26, 2012 8:00 PM
This is the second inexcusable deadly mistake by the Obama Administration in two weeks. Outing the Navy Col. who headed up the OBL raid and now outing the brave Dr. that helped us to find him. The only reason this happened was to make the outer feel powerful and important. I dont think we will ever get another foreigner to help us,,knowing that they will probably be outed to satisfy some egotistical moron's lust for importance. I also dont think we can afford 4 more years of this kind of incompetence.

by: Thomas from: USA
May 26, 2012 3:34 PM
The reference to the Johnathan Pollard case raises an interesting question, doesn't it? "Pollard was convicted of selling U.S. secrets to Israel ..." So do the (unnamed) sources making this analogy believe that Afridi disclosed Pakistani secrets to the US by "help[ing] U.S. forces gather information about Osama bin Laden"?
In Response

by: Anonymous
May 28, 2012 6:01 AM
It depends on their laws in Pakistan as what constitutes treason. To me, it's clearly a tit for tat and the only reason they arrested and charged him is for a return of their spy. The Pakistani government failed again and again to assist with Osama bin Laden and they are only mad that one of their citizens helped. If this man truly helped both countries, it is the Pakistani government that is hypocritical, especially considering the history of hypocrisy towards us.

by: John Smith from: Fairfax, VA
May 26, 2012 12:49 PM
"Some?" I count one, and he didn't say what you say "some" analyists are saying. Can you name them, or was it just "some"one in your newsroom?

by: Dr. Droner from: U.S.
May 26, 2012 10:26 AM
The U.S. accused of hypocrisy? Are they daring to criticize the glorious power of our corporate killing industrial state machine? Time for more drone attacks. Let's just keep killing and killing and killing.

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