US honour for Pak doctor who helped nail Osama

Feb 16, 2012, 09:19 IST | Agencies
A Pakistani doctor who faces the death penalty for his role in the CIA operation to hunt down Osama bin Laden is to be nominated for the US Congressional Gold Medal, the country's highest civilian honour.

Shakeel Afridi was detained three weeks after the US special forces raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader in the town of Abbottabad last year.

Daring move: Dr Shakeel Afridi helped in confirming Osama's presence.
File pics

The doctor had set up a fake hepatitis immunisation campaign in an attempt to obtain DNA from bin Laden's children and confirm the presence of the world's most wanted man in a fortified compound.

On Tuesday, Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said he would be introducing a bill to recognise Dr Afridi with the Congressional Gold Medal.
"Dr Afridi's acts to help the United States were extremely valiant and daring," he said.

"All Americans owe him our most sincere gratitude for helping to execute the terrorist who murdered thousands of innocent Americans."

However, charities working in Pakistan have criticised the fake vaccination programme.

They fear it will lead to suspicions that aid workers are working for foreign intelligence agencies compromising their security in a country awash with anti-American sentiment. And Dr Afridi faces an uncertain future.

A Pakistani government commission set up to investigate how bin Laden was able to live for five years undetected in a military town said last year that "a case of conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason" should be registered against Dr Afridi .

A campaign is also under way to secure him American citizenship.

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