Washington: The prosecution of a doctor, who helped the US trace Osama bin Laden, reflects poorly on Pakistan`s counter-terrorism credentials and makes a mockery of rule of law in the country, an American expert has said.
"Pakistan`s prosecution of (Dr Shakil) Afridi on trumped-up charges not only reflects poorly on Pakistan`s counter-terrorism credentials, but it also makes a mockery of rule of law in the country," Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation said.
"In trying to redeem their sovereignty, Pakistani leaders are instead reinforcing why the US acted unilaterally against bin Laden in the first place and why international trust in Pakistan`s commitment to fighting the terrorist scourge remains elusive," she said in her opinion piece.
Curtis said that with last week`s prosecution of Afridi, Pakistani leaders appear to be trying to restore their wounded pride and reassert the country`s sovereignty.
"Such short-sighted actions will only denigrate Pakistan`s international image and make it more difficult to convince the international community that Islamabad is determined to fight, not facilitate, terrorism," she said.
"The Pakistani authorities almost undoubtedly have trumped up charges against Afridi to cast doubt on his character and to try to make it harder for the US to defend him. More likely, Pakistani ham-handedness will only further infuriate American officials," she said.
Curtis said the US has an obligation to do all it can to help secure Afridi’s safe release.
"Some media reports indicate that Afridi may have turned down an offer from the US government to leave the country immediately after the bin Laden raid," she said.
"While, in hindsight, his decision was terribly ill-advised, Afridi says he never imagined he would be punished for helping to locate the architect of 9/11," she noted, adding that the sentencing of Afridi is the latest irritant in a string of problems facing US-Pakistan relations.
In handing out such a harsh sentence to Afridi, Pakistan is demonstrating that it is taking an increasingly short- sighted approach to relations with the US, she said.
"Pakistani military officials must stop viewing the bin Laden raid as a slight and instead recognise the threat terrorists pose to their own country`s future. Ongoing tensions between Pakistan and the US put both countries at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the terrorists. The Afridi case is a distraction from the real work that needs to be done," Curtis added.