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Dr Afridi's fate hangs in balance in Pakistan

January 30, 2012 21:11 IST

Pakistan is yet to decide the charges it would slap against the doctor who provided crucial information to the US that led to Osama bin Laden's killing, three months after a commission recommended that he be tried for treason.

A report in the CNN said on Monday that the Pakistan government was yet to decide on the matter, a day after Defence Secretary Leon Panetta admitted for the first time that a Pakistani doctor named Shakeel Afridi did assist US officials in cornering the al Qaeda chief.

"It's the federal government who will decide whether to try the doctor for high treason or not... At this stage, the decision hasn't been taken to try the doctor," an unnamed official was quoted as saying.

In October last year, the Pakistani commission probing the US raid that killed bin Laden had suggested that the doctor accused of helping the CIA be tried for high treason.

According to the official quoted by CNN the panel's recommendation was not binding.

In a recent interview to CBS '60 Minutes', Panetta for the first time acknowledged publicly that Afridi provided key information to the US in advance of the successful Navy SEALs assault on bin Laden's compound last year.

"I'm very concerned about what the Pakistanis did with this individual... who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful in the operation," Panetta said.

"He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan... Pakistan and the US have a common cause here against terrorism... and for them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I think is a real mistake on their part," the defence secretary had said.

Afridi is believed to have helped CIA use a vaccination campaign in an attempt to collect DNA samples from residents of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad to verify his presence.

Any DNA obtained from the people in the compound could then be compared with a sample from bin Laden's sister, who died in Boston in 2010, as evidence the family was in the compound.

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