Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday rejected the comments made by US presidential front-runner Donald Trump and asserted that “the fate of Shakeel Afridi will only be decided by Pakistani courts”.
The interior minister was reacting to the recent interview given by Donald Trump to Fox News, in which he had said that if elected, he will free the Pakistani doctor who is in jail now for helping the US raid Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad in 2011.
“I think I would get him out in two minutes,” he said in response to a question during a Fox News interview last week, when asked if he would free Shakeel Afridi.
Nisar said that contrary to Trump’s misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States. “He should learn to treat sovereign countries with respect,” the minister maintained.
“Shakeel Afridi is a Pakistani citizen and nobody else holds the right to dictate to us about his future,” Nisar affirmed.
He said Donald Trump also seems to be ignorant historically of the huge sacrifices Pakistan and its people have made, while standing with or supporting the US policies over the years.
During the interview when Trump was asked that how he would free Dr Afridi, the US presidential front-runner had said, “I would tell them let him out and I’m sure they would let him out.”
The US Congress, which last week withdrew funds for an F-16 deal to force Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network, is now considering another cut, this time to persuade Islamabad to release Dr Shakil Afridi.
Dr Afridi, who assisted US efforts in tracking down Osama bin Laden but is now serving a 23-year prison term in Pakistan, is considered a hero in the United States.
In January 2014, President Barack Obama signed a bill that proposed to withhold $33 million from assistance to Pakistan over Dr Afridi’s detention.
In May that year, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed another measure linking the provision of military aid to Pakistan to Dr Afridi’s release.
Since then, lawmakers have been raising this issue in Congress every time a budget proposal for Pakistan is discussed.