Doctor Who Helped Find bin Laden is Being Tortured in Pakistani Prison, U.S. Aid Continues to Flow

Leah Barkoukis

12/11/2012 4:04:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis

After the successful May 2011 raid that took down Osama bin Laden, President Obama said that “his [bin Laden’s] demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.” Pakistan’s treatment of CIA informant Dr. Shakil Afridi tells a different story, however. The country’s spy agency (Inter-Services Intelligence) promptly arrested the doctor for helping Americans identify OBL’s compound. In addition to a fine and his entire bank account being looted, Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison for high treason and is now reportedly being tortured:

“I was told by a prison source that Shakeel and two guards were subjected to torture by jail administration sometime in November,” Jamil Afridi, the brother of the jailed doctor, told Fox News in a recent interview. Jamil Afridi said he had been told about the torture on Nov. 21, when he tried to visit his brother in jail but was turned away, and in a follow-up court hearing on Nov. 22.

“His privileges have been revoked and he’s been shifted to another cell,” Jamil said. “They are strict with him, and treating him inhumanely.”

Jamil Afridi, who has not been allowed to visit his brother, was reluctant to describe the details of how his brother may have been tortured, saying he feared his communications are being monitored by Pakistani authorities. But a cousin and member of Dr. Afridi's legal counsel backed Jamil’s claims.

According to the cousin, Afridi has been barred from receiving visitors ever since a cell phone was smuggled into his prison cell, allowing him to speak with Fox News and give a first-hand account of his situation. According to that report, Dr. Afridi was tortured with cigarette burns and electric shocks during his own interrogation, “blindfolded for eight months and handcuffed with his hands behind his back for 12 months.”

After Afridi’s arrest, the U.S.’s “bold” response was to symbolically withdraw $33 million of aid from the country --$1 million for each year his of his sentence. An October 2012 Congressional Research Service report on U.S. foreign aid to Pakistan puts that figure into perspective, however:

Since 1948, the United States has pledged more than $30 billion in direct aid, about half for military assistance. Two-thirds of this total was appropriated in the post-9/11 era from FY2002 to FY2011. Many observers question the gains accrued to date, viewing a lack of accountability and reform by the Pakistani government as major obstacles. Moreover, any goodwill generated by U.S. aid is offset by widespread and intense anti-American sentiment among the Pakistani people.

In 2009, Congress passed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-73). The law authorizes the President to provide $1.5 billion in annual nonmilitary aid to Pakistan for FY2010 through FY2014 and requires annual certification for release of security-related aid; such conditionality is a contentious issue. Congress also established two new funds in 2009—the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund (PCF) within the Defense Department appropriations and the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund within the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations—to help build Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capabilities. When $1.5 billion in “coalition support fund” military reimbursements are added to economic and security aid totals, the United States provided a total of $4.3 billion for Pakistan for FY2010 alone, making it the second-highest recipient after Afghanistan. […]

…by most objective measures, U.S. assistance to Pakistan since 2001 has not achieved its central goals, especially as Islamist extremism and militancy there have increased, the civilian government remains unstable, and the national economy continues to suffer.

According to Afridi, ISI “regards America as its “worst enemy,” and the government's claims that it is cooperating with the US are a sham to extract billions of dollars in American aid.” Afridi even said the ISI helps fund the Haqqani network, which Sec. Clinton has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

After learning the details about Pakistan’s treatment of Dr. Afridi and ISI’s feelings towards America, Sen. Rand Paul unsuccessfully pushed to end all aid to Pakistan until the doctor is freed. In his speech on the Senate floor, Paul also added: “I think the real question and the image that you have to have in your mind is, when you see ten thousand people outside the embassy in Pakistan, burning the US flag, can you imagine that we would send them more money? Can you imagine that we would not place restrictions on this money?” Bryana Johnson explains how the vote turned out:

Only nine of his colleagues joined him in the vote to support the bill, one of these being Sen. Paul himself. Only nine votes for the American taxpayer, for fiscal conservatism, for sanity in foreign affairs. Only nine votes for ending aid to the sworn enemies of the American people. Only nine votes for cutting payments to oppressive rulers in third-world countries, for removing the burden of foreign dictators’ debts off of the backs of American children. Only nine votes for justice, for political prisoners suffering in confinement, for friends of freedom serving jail-time in their homelands. Only nine votes for Dr. Shakil Afridi.

This is a man who put his life on the line to help America, is being tortured as a result and yet, told Fox News he did it out of love for America and would help our country again.

How does the U.S. respond? Other than initially withdrawing a mere $33 million and “waiving two certification requirements that placed conditions on U.S. assistance to Pakistan” in August 2012, a State Department spokesperson has called the most recent report on Dr. Afridi’s condition ‘troubling’ and that they “regret both the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence.”