Should Pakistan release Shakeel Afridi?

Aneela Shahzad 02:31 PM | 18 May, 2017
Should Pakistan release Shakeel Afridi?
It was 2011, May the 2nd when Pakistan’s sovereignty was breached in the dark of the night in a CIA-led operation by the infamous JSOC Special Forces of the US Navy SEALs, known for their covert strategic strikes. The US claimed to have caught and killed top terrorist Osama Bin Laden right from the heart of Pakistan.

Asif Ali Zardari was the president of Pakistan at that time, Yousaf Raza Gilani the prime minister and Ashfaq Parvez Kayani our COAS. All three and the State of Pakistan were not given prior information of the operation nor was their consent sought as per requirement of International Law. All this was a triple-jeopardy for Pakistan. It brought the shame of having harboured a terrorist, the shame of having an impotent national security and the shame of having its sovereignty breached.

Within a few days, intelligence was gathered leading to the arrest of Dr Shakeel Afridi, who was alleged to have helped the CIA run a fake hepatitis vaccine program in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to confirm Osama bin Laden's presence in the city by obtaining DNA samples. However, the court sentenced him a 33 years’ imprisonment on account of aiding terrorists and treating militant commanders, not on account of the Abbottabad Incident.

The US CIA Chief Leon Panetta confirmed Dr Afridi’s role in helping the CIA find Bin Laden in Abbottabad and US authorities demanded his release, awarding him a US citizenship. At Pakistan’s refusal the US also cut a substantial part of US AID to Pakistan.

Today after six years, Pakistan has arrested another spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, this time from India. It should be marked that in the time of Dr Afridi, Pakistan had declared assistance to the US War on Terror and was perhaps not in a position to retract from such a position by directly accusing the CIA of its illegal activity in Pakistan. Still, Pakistan kept its national prestige by imprisoning Dr Afridi for life and not letting a traitor of the State get in enemy hands.

But today, times are different, the US, as a result of its misachievements in Afghanistan, now openly accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorism and recognises India as its major strategic partner and a partner in global leadership in the near future. In the wake of such a partnership, Pakistan may face an existential threat from Indian expansionism, which makes it essential for Pakistan to assert a bold stance in international affairs.

Rumour has it that Trump may pressurise Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the release of Dr Afridi, in a meeting they will be having in the side rooms of the Saudi-US Summit (May 20-21). Compliance with such a request would prove to be detrimental to the collective moral conscience of the nation.

Giving away Dr Afridi or Kulbhushan Jadhav for that matter would damage Pakistan’s prestige as a nation that cherishes its sovereignty and national security over other interests or that it is easily intimidated by powerful foes. It also opens the way for US or India to inflate their ideological interventions in the state, which would result in weakening of the national moral, leading to instability.

A weak stance over Dr Afridi would also cost Pakistan an overall weakness in several fronts it faces across its borders. Most recently Iran has threatened Pakistan of physical intervention when Kabul and Delhi are already constantly hostile. Pakistan must also take heed of the fact that its weakness affects the moral of another oppressed neighbor, Occupied Kashmir, where the youth is coming out every day to protest against Indian occupation and is being beaten, injured and killed every day – this youth looks at Pakistan as a wall to lean on in its times of difficulty.

Today political scientists understand that control over ‘geopolitical imagination’ is the key to political control. Creating and imposing the geopolitical narrative of one’s choice determines its supremacy in the international stage, and by losing one’s narrative one risks further intimidation.

Therefore, the release of Dr Afridi would be a symbolic retreat for Pakistan, the price of which would only be determined in the future.

Aneela Shahzad
Aneela Shahzad

Author is a geopolitical analyst, also writes at, tweets @AneelaShahzad and can also be reached at


KARACHI - Following are the foreign currency exchange rates for US Dollar, Saudi Riyal, UK Pound Sterling, U.A.E. Dirham, European Euro, and other foreign currencies in Pakistan open market on February 03, 2023 (Friday).

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 272.25 273.25
Euro EUR 297.32 297.65
UK Pound Sterling GBP 333.31 333.61
U.A.E Dirham AED 73.03 73.33
Saudi Riyal SAR 71.49 71.80
Australian Dollar AUD 188.9 191.3
Bahrain Dinar BHD 712.73 720.73
Canadian Dollar CAD 200.95 203.15
China Yuan CNY 39.67 40.07
Danish Krone DKK 39.11 39.51
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 34.19 34.54
Indian Rupee INR 3.28 3.39
Japanese Yen JPY 2.5 2.54
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 877.76 886.76
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 62.83 63.43
New Zealand Dollar NZD 173.25 175.25
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.76 27.09
Omani Riyal OMR 696.08 704.08
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 73.62 74.32
Singapore Dollar SGD 204 206
Swedish Korona SEK 25.61 25.91
Swiss Franc CHF 291.69 294.19
Thai Bhat THB 8.15 8.3

KARACHI – The price of a single tola of 24-karat gold in Pakistan is Rs 212,900 on Friday. The price of 10 grams of 24k gold was recorded at Rs182,530.

Likewise, 10 grams of 22k gold were being traded for Rs167,318 while a single tola of 22-karat gold was being sold at Rs 195,157.

Note: The gold rate in Pakistan is fluctuating according to the international market so the price is never been fixed. The below rates are provided by local gold markets and Sarafa Markets of different cities.

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Karachi PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Islamabad PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Peshawar PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Quetta PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Sialkot PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Attock PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Gujranwala PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Jehlum PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Multan PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Bahawalpur PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Gujrat PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Nawabshah PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Chakwal PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Hyderabad PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Nowshehra PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Sargodha PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Faisalabad PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420
Mirpur PKR 212,900 PKR 2,420


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