`Obama admin handled Dr Afridi issue poorly’

Peter King has expressed concern over Obama administration`s inaction to protect the Pakistani doctor.

Updated: May 24, 2012, 13:56 PM IST

Washington: Peter King, Republican chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the US House of Representative, has expressed concern over Obama administration`s inaction to protect a Pakistani doctor, who was imprisoned for 33 years for helping Washington to track down Osama bin Laden.

"This has been handled very poorly right from the time of the raid," Fox News quoted King as saying.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify Laden`s presence in Abbottabad, where US commandos killed the Al Qaeda chief.

The operation annoyed the Pakistani officials, who said that the doctor`s help was an act of treachery by a supposed ally.

"They put him out there. I`m focused on that they disclosed his identity," King said.

The doctor was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday for conspiring against the state, verdict officials believe is likely to strain Pakistan`s relations with Washington.

Senior US officials have called for Afridi to be released, saying his work served Pakistani and American interests.

A senior US official with knowledge of counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda in Pakistan said the doctor was never asked to spy on Pakistan.

"He was asked only to help locate al Qaeda terrorists, who threaten Pakistan and the US," the official said.

However, many Pakistani officials have claimed that the doctor`s help was an act of treachery.

"He was working for a foreign spy agency. We are looking after our national interests," a Pakistani intelligence official said.

Afridi`s conviction comes at time when the US and Pakistan relations are already strained over Pakistan’s refusal to re-open NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

The supply routes were closed six months ago in retaliation for American air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.