WASHINGTON: The United States outrightly rejected reports of a supposed deal underway with Pakistan for extradition of former Pakistan ambassador Husain Haqqani reportedly in exchange for Shakeel Afridi, the doctor who helped CIA track Osama bin Laden.
“Absolutely not,” a spokesperson for the US State Department replied, when asked if any such deal was at play. According to some media reports, the director general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had told the Supreme Court that the American authorities were contacted regarding Haqqani’s extradition, and that the Americans said ‘you too have our man.’
The Foreign Office of Pakistan, a day ago, also clarified its position saying that there was no deal being made with the US to hand over Shakeel Afridi in exchange for Husain Haqqani.
Soon after Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011 in a US raid in Abbottabad, the US media reported that Afridi had contributed to the success of CIA operation by collecting DNA samples of bin Laden’s family. Afridi was later arrested and sentenced to 33 years for involvement in anti-state activities by a tribal court in 2012.
“There is no deal with the US to exchange Dr Shakil Afridi for Husain Haqqani or Aafia Siddiqui,” an FO spokesman had said.
The US State Department here weighed in declaring that it does not comment on pending or potential extradition requests, or confirm or deny that an extradition request has been made.
“The extradition process in the United States is governed by relevant treaties and domestic statutes,” the State Department spokesperson said.
“It is not used to ‘trade’ prisoners.”
When approached for comment, Haqqani said: “It is unfortunate that a lie has been told before the Supreme Court instead of admitting honestly that I cannot be forced to return under the international law.”
The apex court, in January this year, reopened the Memogate case against Haqqani, after a hiatus of several years and, in February, issued arrest warrants for the production of the former ambassador.
During the hearing on March 28, the court had given the authorities a month to ensure Haqqani’s return from the US.
The Memogate erupted in 2011 when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed to have received an ‘anti-army’ memo from Haqqani, then the Pakistani envoy in Washington DC, for US joint chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.
The memo sent by Haqqani in 2011 allegedly mentioned a possible army coup in Pakistan following the US raid in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden. It sought assistance from the US for the then-Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government for ‘reigning in the military and intelligence agencies.’
A judicial commission tasked to probe the case had concluded that the memo was authentic and authored by the former envoy. The commission said the purpose of the memo was to convince American officials that Pakistan’s civilian government was ‘pro-US.’
The scandal, taken to the Supreme Court by then opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and several others, had led to Haqqani’s resignation and subsequent exit from the country as the hearing was under way.
Haqqani, who resides in the US, denies the charges and has termed the recent proceedings a ‘political stunt.’