DUBAI – Former president Gen Pervez Musharraf has suggested swapping Dr Shakil Afridi with Mullah Fazlullah, the current Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief in a “give and take” deal.
In an interview to Voice of America on Friday, Musharraf noted that had he been the president, he would have released Dr Shail Afridi, highlighting that the relations between Washington and Islamabad were at their “lowest ebb” now.
“A deal is a give and take. Yes, indeed it can be resolved. I don’t think it is such a serious thing that it cannot be resolved,” he said in a reference to the imprisoned doctor.
The former military dictator also shared that Pakistan’s policy in the case was an irritant to the United States but hastened to add that Washington would have probably done the same if faced with a similar situation.
The former military chief also defended Pakistan’s position on Afridi, saying every nation had to make policies in accordance with its interests.
“Purely on the merits of the case, … would you allow… a US citizen dealing with the ISI on a very, very sensitive issue of national importance to the United States?” he wondered.
Musharraf, who has been residing in UAE from over a couple of years now skipping cases at home, advised the Trump administration to listen to Islamabad’s grievances and urged Pakistan to pay attention to America’s complaints about the Haqqani network.
“We need to sit down and resolve these issues,” he declared.
Dr Afridi, who helped track al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad through a fake vaccination drive has been in prison in Pakistan since 2011. The facility housing the doctor has also been ramped up after reports emerged that the US had planned a jailbreak for him.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged before a congressional committee that he would continue to work “diligently” to get Afridi released.
However, Pakistan’s foreign office has ruled out any deal for Dr Shakil Afridi.