You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

Pak hints readiness to 'bridge gap' with US on Dr. Afridi ahead of key meetings


Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Ahead of his crucial meetings with top Trump administration officials, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has indicated that Islamabad may be willing to discuss the fate of Dr Shakil Afridi, one of the key issues which has hurt ties with the US.

While Afridi is hailed as a "hero" by the US security establishment for his role in the raid by US special forces in May 2011 that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, he is viewed as a "traitor" in Pakistan.

The 56-year-old physician helped the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) run a fake hepatitis vaccine programme in Abbottabad to confirm bin Laden's presence in the garrison city by obtaining his DNA samples.

In May, 2012, Afridi was sentenced to 33 years' imprisonment for treason.

"Openings are always there," Qureshi said in an interview with Fox News, a channel that is known for backing President Trump and his policies.

"He is viewed in a particular light in Pakistan, he is viewed as a traitor in Pakistan. But he is viewed as a friend in the US. So we have to bridge this gap," Qureshi said when asked about the fate of Dr. Afridi.

He said that the future of Afridi lies with the courts and not with He added that the now-imprisoned CIA asset went through the due legal process and was given a fair trial and a chance to plead his case.

"He was sentenced, he was convicted and is serving a sentence. We expect you to respect our legal process, as we respect yours," said Qureshi while alluding to interference by the US in the country's internal affairs.

Qureshi acknowledged that bilateral relations between the once-close allies have "soured" since President Trump took office last year.

The relations between Pakistan and the US nosedived after President Trump accused Islamabad of giving nothing to Washington but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists.

The US Congress also passed a bill to slash Pakistan's defence aid to USD 150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than USD one billion per year.

The foreign minister reiterated that Pakistan was unjustly blamed for the deteriorating security situation in war-torn Afghanistan.

"Pakistan is there to help and facilitate, we recognise that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in our interest,"

Qureshi said ahead of his planned meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

During his meeting with Bolton on Tuesday, Qureshi is expected to discuss ways on untangling Pakistan's ruffled relations with the US, the Dawn reported.

Qureshi will meet Secretary of State Pompeo on October 2 in an attempt to reset ties between the two countries, it said.

Qureshi, during the interview, also said that he was not in the US to seek aid for Pakistan.

"I am not here to talk dollars and cents, I am not here seeking aid," Qureshi said.

"I am here to fix a relationship that went sour a relationship that has mutually-benefited both sides. We have been allies for a long time, it is time to rebuild that powerful relationship," he added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Mon, October 01 2018. 17:25 IST