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US: Resolution to recognise Dr Afridi as an American hero

By Lalit K Jha
February 28, 2013 13:42 IST
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A Congressional resolution has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives to recognise a Pakistani doctor, who helped the Central Intelligence Agency trace Osama bin Laden, as an American hero.

Dr Shakil Afridi was arrested by the Pakistan government -- three weeks after Laden was killed in a raid by US Special Forces -- for helping to access the Al Qaeda leader's compound in Abbottabad.

The resolution also seeks his release from prison.

Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman from California, along with nine other Congressmen, introduced the resolution seeking to recognise Afridi as an American hero and that he be immediately released from custody by Pakistan.

Rohrabacher is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

"All Americans owe Dr Afridi a gratitude for what he did to help us find Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. He and his family have paid a terrible price at the hands of our so-called allies, the Pakistani government," Rohrabacher said in a statement.

"We cannot continue to turn our back on Dr Afridi. He risked his life to provide the intel our forces needed to locate and eliminate Osama bin Laden and he now languishes in a Pakistani prison serving a 33-year sentence," Rohrabacher said.

The Congressman said Afridi and his family has been tortured and he is still in a desperate situation.

"It behoves us as Americans to state in a unified voice to his Pakistani captors, Dr Afridi should be freed," Rohrabacher said.

At Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, two stars of the feature film Zero Dark Thirty, also spoke out about Afridi's plight.

Jessica Chastain said, "It breaks my heart that he is still in prison," and Jason Clarke said, "It is wrong that he is being held".

In May 2011, three weeks after the US raid that killed Laden, the Pakistani government arrested Afridi for accessing Laden's compound and helping the US identify who was hiding there.

This was confirmed when then Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta stated that Afridi was "an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regard to this operation to kill or capture bin Laden."

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