Dr Afridi and FCR

By spying for the US Shakeel Afridi has betrayed his nation and his country and shamed his family. His conduct cannot be justified in any way because he did not do it for ideological reasons, only for dollars. This is indeed very shameful.

Afridi’s first and foremost crime was the betrayal of his professional commitment to the Pakistani people. It is true that welfare projects are carried out by international organisations. However, such activities were already doubtful in minds of ordinary people. Even before Shakeel Afrid’s action, an anti-polio campaign in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was very difficult.

Thanks to what he did, it has now become impossible. There is a long list of individuals who are responsible for the fact that needy females, senior citizens and children do not have access to the health and welfare services offered by the international community. Now Afridi’s name is on top of the list of such individuals.

Afridi’s failure to display integrity and honesty in a matter concerned with national security and honour is something which cannot be forgiven. If he had received information that he could not handle, he should have informed his own government.

Instead he decided to share the information with the CIA and tried to keep the national security institutions unaware of this. Needless to say there are contradictions and failures related to our own security institutions. However, the weaknesses and failings of our system cannot be an excuse for treason.

However, the question arises: why is something done by a common man is considered an act of treason, but not if the guilty person is someone like Gen Pervez Musharraf, Mirza Aslam Baig, Asad Durrani, Hameed Gul, Mehmood Ali Durrani? Why aren’t they charged with treason as well? Although this is an unfortunate feature of Pakistani, Afridi’s crime cannot be justified in any way.

Pakistan and India have signed agreements to inform each other of military movement near the borders. They share such information with each other. But if an Indian or Pakistani citizen tries to act as a spy and conveys information to the other country regarding such movement, he is guilty of an act of treason. Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai was sentenced on the charge of working for the ISI, though the ISI and the CIA have signed agreements to share intelligence.

As far as family members and friends of Shakeel Afridi are concerned, it must be a depressing time for them. Afridi did everything with the full understanding of the sensitivity of the issue.

Because of Afridi’s being declared a hero by the US public and Congress, he is deemed guilty of espionage in the eyes of the common man in Pakistan. The US Congress has praised his efforts and now the Americans are crossing every limit to protect him. This again proves that he worked for the CIA. If Shakee Afridi remains alive, the US will take him away soon. There is a reason why the Afridi affair is a matter of ego for the United States: he is one of the thousands of CIA agents who are working in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

All such agents work with the assurance that in times of trouble the US will protect them. So for the preservation of CIA agents’ confidence in the US government, the Americans can do everything imaginable to secure Afridi’s freedom.

At present Afridi is nothing but a bargaining chip between the Pakistani and US establishments. In the past we have seen the US getting its way in all such cases. Pakistani officials, after being paid, prefer to surrender. This time again bargaining will result in the freedom of Shakeel Afridi, which seems more important for the US at this point of time than even the reopening of Nato supply rout.

Afridi is just another Raymond Davis. His indictment under FCR laws, instead of the common laws of the country, shows that government left a loophole to enable his freedom. Under the FCR the official who punishes a criminal has the authority to revoke the punishment.

Afridi has committed a very shameful act. This act defamed not only his family and friends, but also Pakhtuns and the tribal areas. However, there is a positive side to the Afridi affair.

It has turned the attention of the Pakistani and international media and human right organisations around the world to the barbaric FCR. This may result in national and international realisation as to that how this law is used against the tribesmen.

It would be a discovery for people in Pakistan and around the world that ten million people are living under a regime where no court exists. A mere nominee of the governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa may punish any person or tribe and no court could hear an appeal against them.

In the tribal areas all those punishments are authorised by the president of Pakistan, as the governor is responsible to the president, and political agent is a mere nominee of the governor. The same political agent enjoys the authority of judiciary and administration.

Moreover, he is also fully authorised to decide financial matters. He may impose tax at any rate on any item he chooses, and may reward anyone with any amount by drawing money from the public fund. Dr Shakeel Afridi is sentenced by the assistant political agent, but for the common people this authority is used by low-rank Tehsildars.

For the last many years the PPP and the ANP are presenting themselves as champions of human rights who introduced reforms in FCR laws. But this case shows the degree of the supposed reforms, because an appeal is still directed to not to a court of law but to another administrative officer, the commissioner of Peshawar.

Instead of abolishing or introducing reforms in the spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan, the Anti-Terrorism Act is now linked to the FCR and now security agencies and forces could detain any individual from any area of Pakistan, and punish him or her under the FCR.

I know of many individuals who were arrested from Peshawar and Rawalpindi and were punished under the FCR. So this is democracy and this is the real face of the self-assumed torch-barriers and protectors of human rights in Pakistan, the ANP and the PPP. But despite all this, human rights violations under the framework of the FCR will not be discussed by the media and parliament.

By: Saleem Safi

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