My younger son was disappointed when one day he was reading a headline in a western newspaper, ‘Afridi Behind the Bars’. In a very dismal tone he said to me, “Baba! These western newspapers are simply damaging the repute of our national hero Shahid Afridi by such misguiding headlines.” I said, “Don’t take it so serious; it might be a printing mistake.” The history of Pakistan would always remember two Afridis, Shahid Afridi and Dr Shakeel Afridi, no doubt, two extreme contradictions to each other. Shahid Afridi would always be remembered as a beacon of success and achievement embellished with the ornaments of patriotism and loyalty to the motherland but Dr Afridi with so many suspicions and doubts. Whether Dr Shakeel Afridi played a plausible role in the global war on terror or made him ‘immortal’ as a traitor in the history of Pakistan; certainly very difficult to be decided at this stage; but one thing must be kept in mind that his punishment of 33 years imprisonment has nothing to do with the Abbotabad Operation. Nasir Khan, the Assistant Political Agent Bara sentenced Dr Afridi to 33 years imprisonment in accordance with the provision of Frontier Crimes Regulation and the tribal traditions on allegations of his involvement in anti state activities. The punishment is based on his close association and terrorism based linkages with a terrorist organization which is active in Bara and Tirah Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhawh. God knows better why our American friends are taking the trial and punishment of Dr Afridi so much personal. The government of Pakistan has yet not done anything regarding his involvement in the murder of Bin Laden and his so-called co-operation with the CIA and the US authorities. Since he was a government servant and according to the rules and regulations no government servant is allowed to develop his personal relationship with a foreign government; doing so is a crime. Certainly the government of Pakistan must be thinking of taking action against him on these grounds at some later stage.

Apart from the actual facts and figures, Dr Afridi’s case has generated a never ending discussion at national and international level in a very controversial way. The patriots in Pakistan see him as a traitor who had become a secret agent of a foreign agency, for money whereas US patronised media persons project him as a hero. Here the most important thing is that the face of actualities must not be deformed in heat and haste. At present, Dr Afridi must not be discussed as a traitor or a hero. He is simply a criminal who has been penalised by a court for his linkage and association with a terrorist organization which is involved in anti-state activities. Let the government take the matter of his affiliation with the CIA regarding the Abbotabad Operation into consideration and let the court decide his status; only after that it would be fair to call Dr Afridi a traitor or a hero.

PROFESSOR ALI SUKHANVER,

Multan, June 8.