The federal government has refused to grant identity cards to the family of Shakeel Afridi, the jailed doctor who helped the CIA hunt Osama bin Laden , his lawyer said, effectively denying them passports and voting rights.

Afridi has been languishing in prison for more than five years after his fake vaccination programme helped the CIA track and kill the Al Qaeda leader.

His lawyer Qamar Nadim told AFP Wednesday that officials are refusing to renew Afridi's wife's ID card, which expired in December, because her husband's card had lapsed in 2014. He has also been denied a new card.

Officials are similarly refusing to grant new cards to his two children, said Nadim, who has been denied access to his client for more than two years.

"Why are they punishing the entire family ? It's not justice, it's cruelty," Nadim said, adding he will challenge the decision in a Peshawar court.

Officials from the interior ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The refusal to grant ID cards means Afridi's son and daughter are now facing problems getting admission to college, the doctor 's brother Jamil told AFP.

"So the family can't go abroad and the children are facing difficulties in continuing their education," he said.

Afridi was jailed for 33 years in May 2012 after he was convicted of ties to militants, a charge he has always denied. Some US lawmakers said the case was revenge for his help in the search for the Al Qaeda chief.