Jagran Post

ISI refuses to swap Afridi for Aafia

Islamabad: Pakistan is not considering any proposal to swap a doctor arrested for running a vaccination campaign to trace Osama bin Laden for Aafia Siddiqui, convicted in the US for links to terrorism, ISI Chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam has said.

There is no proposal under consideration to hand over the doctor, Shakeel Afridi, to the US since he is facing judicial proceedings and a three-stage appeal process is yet to be disposed of, Islam was quoted as saying in media reports.

The Inter Services Intelligence chief spoke to reporters on the margins of a military function late Friday night.

Afridi was arrested shortly after the killing of bin Laden on May 2 last year for running a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to try and collect DNA samples of bin Laden or his kin.

He was recently given a 33-year prison term by a tribal court for alleged links with militants.

Afridi has appealed against the sentence.

US Embassy spokesperson Rian Harris too said the US was not considering a prisoner exchange involving Siddiqui and Afridi.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event hosted by the army chief to mark the Defence of Pakistan Day, Islam said no discussions had taken place with the US on swapping Afridi for Siddiqui.

Islam refused to respond to a question about the possible involvement of foreign elements in the insurgency in Balochistan province but said the rebels were benefiting from space provided to them by flawed governance.

Intelligence agencies are always in search of a "foe's weaknesses and especially the space for action", he said.

During the same event, Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told he would visit Russia this month and a schedule for the trip is being worked out.

He said he would make the visit at the invitation of his Russian counterpart and that this would be the first visit by a Pakistan Army chief to that country.

Russia is cooperating with Pakistan in defence on a limited scale and Kayani's visit is expected to open new vistas for cooperation.

The visit will take place ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin trip to Pakistan from October 2.

Kayani parried several questions about pulling Pakistan out of the war on terror and reports of an operation in North Waziristan.

He said "no one would like to have war" and that he had expressed his views about the war on terror and any operation in North Waziristan.

(Agencies)

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