According to reports, President Trump is just days away from fulfilling yet another campaign promise.
During the frenzied election season, Trump assured voters that he would free a jailed Pakistani doctor who had helped the U.S. successfully track Osama Bin Laden. The Obama administration allowed the hero to languish behind bars.
Dr. Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program that experts believe helped the CIA track down the elusive al Qaeda founder. Within a few days of Bin Laden’s capture, Afridi was arrested by Pakistani authorities.
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan nearly disintegrated after the incident. The Islamist country was incensed after Team SEAL Six swooped in and nabbed Bin Laden. Washington meanwhile was enraged over Afridi’s continued imprisonment.
When questioned by Bill O’Reilly in 2016, Trump insisted that he would be able to free the doctor.
“I think I would get him out in two minutes. I would tell them to let them out and I’m sure they would let them out. Because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan. We give a lot of money to Pakistan. And frankly, they will do — they don’t have any respect for our president,” Trump said.
“But when you say they take advantage or they are no friend. Nobody is a friend to us. They just take us like a bunch of suckers, Bill. And that’s what my speech was about to a certain extent. It was also economic in terms of economic, relative to aid and the military. But Pakistan certainly takes advantage like everybody else. Nobody is different.”
Obama lacked the courage and diplomatic power to resolve the situation. Trump is correct, Pakistan gave the former administration absolutely no respect. Trump, meanwhile, is far more action-driven.
“We strongly believe that all hurdles will be removed in Dr. Shakil’s release,” attorney Qamar Nadeem told NBC News. “Things have finally started going in the right direction due to increased pressure on Pakistan by the U.S. officials.”
Trump knows how to negotiate. Obama, by contrast, had trouble putting ideas into action. It’s horrific that an innocent man who helped the CIA nab one of the most wanted men in history is currently rotting in a jail cell. We should ensure that helping America achieve its goals doesn’t result in the person being punished.
“We believe Dr. Afridi has been unjustly imprisoned and have clearly communicated our position to Pakistan on Dr. Afridi’s case, both in public and in private. We continue to raise this issue at the highest levels during discussions with Pakistan’s leadership,” a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday.
Pakistan officials publicly announced after Trump was inaugurated that the doctor would remain in jail, although it now appears that the statement was mere bluster. It’s unwise for a country to set itself at odds with the United States. America’s a potent enemy.
Faced with actual pressure from Washington, Islamabad officials could release Afridi as soon as next week. Trump’s first state visit abroad is thought to be a perfect time for Pakistan to capitulate to the president’s demands.
Discovering Bin Laden’s hideout was one the highlights of Obama’s two terms in office, but he spoiled the effect by allowing Pakistan to keep hold of Afridi. It’s critical that people in troubled countries know that America is their ally.
“Contrary to Mr. Trump’s misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said in a statement a month after Trump’s O’Reilly interview.
Trump, however, refused to allow Pakistan to bully him. Sources say that the president’s resolve to free Afridi hasn’t flagged by one bit. He may be about to accomplish in months what his predecessor couldn’t do in years.