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Bloggings on Political Asylum

by Jason Dzubow

Asylum for the Pakistani Doctor Who Helped Get Osama Bin Laden?

By now, the story of Shakil Afridi is well known.  The Pakistani doctor ran a vaccination program in Pakistan that served as cover for his real missionĖto help the CIA track down Osama Bin Laden.  According to Leon Panetta, the former head of the CIA (and current Secretary of Defense), Dr. Afridiís contribution was crucial to finding Bin Laden and terminating him with extreme prejudice.

The CIA Vaccine Program: We have ways of making you talk!

As a reward for helping rid the world of its number one terrorist, the government of Pakistan arrested Dr. Afridi and charged him with high treason, a crime punishable by death. Pakistan has also arrested Dr. Afridiís wife for good measure.

I suppose from Pakistanís point of view, Dr. Afridi should have informed the Pakistani government, not the U.S. government, about Mr. Bin Laden.  But I also suppose thatĖhad he done soĖMr. Bin Laden would still be alive and well today.

So far, Pakistan has refused U.S. demands to release the good doctor, and now Congress is getting into the act.  A bill sponsored by Dana Rohrabacher, the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight, calls for granting citizenship to Dr. Afridi.  Congressman Rohrabacher states:

My bill would grant [Dr. Afridi] US citizenship and send a direct and powerful message to those in the Pakistani government and military who protected the mastermind of 9/11 for all those years and who are now seeking retribution on those who helped to execute bin LadenÖ.  This bill shows the world that America does not abandon its friends.

There are a few too many assumptions in the Congressmanís condemnation of Pakistan for my taste, but I agree with the general sentiment.  It is outrageous that our supposed ally would treat Dr. Afridi (and his wife) in this manner.  While Pakistanís pride might have been hurt by our Abbottabad Operation, the fact is, Osama Bin Laden was living right under their noses and they did nothing about it.  Rather than lash out at the man who helped find Osama Bin Laden, they would do better to look inward and examine the shocking intelligence failure that allowed Mr. Bin Laden to live for years practically next door to Pakistanís top military academy.

Whether the efforts of the State Department and Congress bear fruit, we shall see.  But certainly we should not abandoned the man who helped us eliminate Mr. Bin Laden.

As a side note, there are many other foreign nationals who have helped us in our fight against terrorism, often at great personal risk.  So far, we have not done right by most of them (Iíve written about this here).  We should not abandoned these people either.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: