PESHAWAR: Dr Shakil Afridi, a government surgeon who helped the CIA uncover Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, was sacked by the health department of Thursday, amid calls for him to face treason charges.
“The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has issued a notification of dismissal of Dr Shakeel Afridi,” provincial health secretary Ashfaq Khan told reporters.
The notification stated that Afridi had been terminated under the Efficiency & Disciplinary (E&D) Rules guideline for being involved in anti-state activities.
Seventeen other health officials, who worked on the same fake vaccination program set up by the CIA in a bid to confirm the al Qaeda chief was living in Abbottabad, have already been sacked from their government posts, he added. Fifteen lady health workers were dismissed last August, and a woman doctor and an assistant coordinator were sacked on March 17.
Afridi, who worked for years as a government surgeon in Khyber Agency, is currently in police custody, while the panel investigating the Bin Laden raid has recommended that Afridi be put on trial for treason.
In January, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Afridi had aided US intelligence by collecting DNA to verify Bin Laden’s presence, and expressed concern about Pakistan’s treatment of him.
“He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan,” Panetta said while appearing in CBS television’s “60 Minutes” programme.
“For them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I just think is a real mistake on their part.”
Panetta said he believed someone in authority in Pakistan knew where Bin Laden was hiding and as a result Islamabad was not warned about the raid.
The government has pleaded ignorance regarding Bin Laden’s whereabouts and said the raid was a violation of its sovereignty. The operation severely damaged relations with the US, which have struggled to recover and are currently under parliamentary review.
British newspaper The Guardian reported last July that the CIA set up a fake vaccination drive in Abbottabad in the hope of obtaining DNA samples from the house where they suspected Bin Laden was living. Afridi had been recruited by the agency in the elaborate scheme to verify if those living in the house were Bin Laden and his family, under the pretext of vaccinating the residents for polio. US intelligence was not 100% certain that the al Qaeda chief was living in the Abbottabad house when President Barack Obama gave the approval for Navy SEALs to raid the compound on May 2.