Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has hinted at a possible prisoner swap of Dr Shakil Afridi and Dr Aafia Siddiqui with the United States (US).
Afridi, a Pakistani physician, is in authority’s custody for helping the US in running a fake hepatitis vaccine programme in Abbottabad to confirm Osama bin Laden’s presence by obtaining DNA samples.
Aafia, on the other hand, is a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of multiple felonies and is locked up in a US prison.
When asked about jailed Afridi during an interview with Fox News on Monday, the premier said that in Pakistan, he is considered a spy and it is a very emotive issue. “The way it [Osama bin Laden operation] was conducted, it really embarrassed Pakistan at a time when we were an ally of the US in its war on terror.”
Osama bin Laden, founder and first leader of Al-Qaeda, was killed in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, by US Navy SEALs in an operation Pakistani authorities “were unaware of”.
“You are the prime minister, you can make a decision can’t you,” Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked.
“There are some decisions in a democracy that even a premier finds difficult to make, because we do have an opposition,” PM Imran said, adding that it, however, was something that could be negotiated.
“We also have someone in a US prison, a frail woman called Aafia Siddiqui and we could negotiate a swap.” “The talks have not started yet, but we know that US wants Afridi and we can negotiate,” he added.