Dr. Shakil Afridi convicted of militant links

Surprise verdict: The Pakistani doctor thought to have been sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, Dr. Shakil Afridi, was actually convicted of conspiring with Pakistani militant group Lashkar-i-Islam, according to the five-page verdict released by the court on Wednesday (AP, AFP, Dawn, Guardian,Reuters). A tribal court in Khyber Agency convicted ...

MOHAMMAD RAUF/AFP/GettyImages
MOHAMMAD RAUF/AFP/GettyImages
MOHAMMAD RAUF/AFP/GettyImages

Surprise verdict: The Pakistani doctor thought to have been sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, Dr. Shakil Afridi, was actually convicted of conspiring with Pakistani militant group Lashkar-i-Islam, according to the five-page verdict released by the court on Wednesday (APAFPDawnGuardian,Reuters). A tribal court in Khyber Agency convicted Dr. Afridi under the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulation, a set of laws adhered to in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), sparking new Western critiques of the unique system (Post). The four-member tribal court said it did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute Dr. Afridi for treason for his alleged involvement with the CIA, but recommended that he be tried in the relevant court.

Surprise verdict: The Pakistani doctor thought to have been sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, Dr. Shakil Afridi, was actually convicted of conspiring with Pakistani militant group Lashkar-i-Islam, according to the five-page verdict released by the court on Wednesday (APAFPDawnGuardian,Reuters). A tribal court in Khyber Agency convicted Dr. Afridi under the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulation, a set of laws adhered to in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), sparking new Western critiques of the unique system (Post). The four-member tribal court said it did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute Dr. Afridi for treason for his alleged involvement with the CIA, but recommended that he be tried in the relevant court.

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, said on Tuesday that Pakistani judges are often coerced by the local community to convict people on the nation’s controversial blasphemy laws, and that lawyers are hesitant to defend those accused of blasphemy for fear of reprisal attacks (AP). The LA Times’ Alex Rodriguez published a must-read on Tuesday about a ten-year-old Pakistani girl who was severely disfigured in an acid attack last November (LAT). Despite increasing awareness about acid attacks in Pakistan, few victims ever see their attackers brought to justice, often due to the perpetrator’s personal ties with officials, or a lack of concern for women’s rights.

For purely financial reasons, Pakistani truck drivers are eager to see their government reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, despite their anger over last November’s NATO airstrikes on two Pakistani border posts, and the Taliban attacks they will likely face en route (Reuters).

Fight goes on

Eight Afghan policemen were killed and two injured during clashes with the Taliban in the northeastern province of Badakhshan on Tuesday evening (BBC). Hours later, a NATO service member was killed by a homemade bomb in southern Afghanistan, and a roadside bomb killed three Afghan government employees on their way to work Wednesday morning in eastern Nangarhar Province (AP).

Around 50 Afghan schoolgirls were hospitalized on Tuesday in another suspected poisoning attack, which was disavowed by the Taliban (BBCCNN). The Taliban on Wednesday also denied reports by Afghan news outlet Tolo that Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Haqqani Network, had died of kidney disease (AFP).

The United Nations special representative to Afghanistan Jan Kubis said on Wednesday that there were 21% fewer civilian casualties in the country during the first four months of this year when compared with the same time period last year (NYT). Kubis also said the just 9% of the casualties were attributed to "pro-government" forces, which are Afghan and international security forces, a drop from the 14% of civilian casualties attributed to pro-government forces last year.

Breaking the mold 

Against all odds, Zarifah Qazizadah secured electricity for her tiny village in Balkh Province in 2004, and in 2006 became the village’s first — and is now the country’s only — female chief (BBC). When something happens in the village in the middle of the night, Qazizadah throws on men’s clothing and a fake mustache, jumps on her motorcycle, and takes care of the problem. 

 Jennifer Rowland

Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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