Abbottabad, Pakistan. Before being elected, President Trump made a campaign promise he said would take “two minutes” to take care of, the release of Shakil Afridi, who helped the American CIA find Osama Bin Laden in 2011 and was subsequently arrested by Pakistani authorities.
On the sixth anniversary of the raid in which Bin Laden was killed in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, the Pakistani surgeon is still being held on criminal charges. His case adds to concerns that the administration is not willing to back foreigners who have risked their lives for the United States during conflicts abroad.
“I would tell them, ‘Let him out,’ and I’m sure they would let him out,” said Trump, speaking to reporters one year ago. But the presidential candidate soon learned the hard way that Pakistan had no interest in what Donald Trump’s wishes were in the matter.
The covert 2011 American raid left officials there deeply embarrassed. Days after Bin Laden’s death, Afridi was captured and accused of having run a fake vaccination program for the CIA to obtain DNA samples that could prove the al-Qaeda leader was in the city.
Afridi’s role has been openly praised by American officials, but he was viewed as a traitor by many in Pakistan, where authorities have made clear they are willing to risk a possible deterioration of US-Pakistani relations over the case.
The country’s interior minister, Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan, said “the government of Pakistan and not Mr. Donald Trump” would decide the fate of the doctor.“Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America, he should learn to treat sovereign nations with respect.” Khan clipped.
For now the doctor remains a symbol of America trying to bully a government it abused with threats, that in the end show that the US could kill Bin Ladin, but not free the man who helped them make it possible.