Shakil Afridi: The lowliest of traitors

Published: February 22, 2012
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He is the kind of man who betrays not for his moral principals or political ideology, but for his business. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Dr Shakil Afridi, accused of running a CIA sponsored fake vaccine program, is in a funny position. On one hand, he has been responsible for fulfilling Osama bin Laden’s dear wish to die at the hand of infidels. On the other, he has played in the hands of the secret agency of an ally country.

The recent attempt of US congressman Dana Rohrabacher to save his neck has brought his case to the fore once again and it’s a surprise to see that most of the people who rejoiced at the news of OBL’s death think that Afridi shouldn’t be tried for treason. Either it’s because they consider him to be a man of high principles who helped in a noble cause or because to them treason is no crime. That people shouldn’t be tried for treason is a moral position and one to be respected. There, after all, is little difference between heresy and treason. Years after Malcolm X was killed for changing his religious views, Louis Farrakhan would say:

We dealt with [Malcolm] like a nation deals with a traitor.. a nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats.

Dr Shakil Afridi, however, is not a traitor in that sense. He is of the lowliest type of traitors: the criminals. He is the man who betrays not for his moral principles or political ideology, but for his business.

When suspicious individuals show up at your door with a strange suggestion, you either escape from the back door or call the police, or maybe both. But, of course, you could also ask them in and discuss the matter over tea and this is what Shakil Afridi did – that his guests happened to be on a mission to liquidate an odious creature, a porn-addicted, narcissistic fanatic was just plain luck. There was no way he could be let in on the big secret just because he had to organize one vaccine program.

Shakil couldn’t have any notion that he was helping these men get rid of a universal excrescence and working in the ‘official’ interests of his state. He would have helped anyone who had come to him with a similar offer without caring who or what the target was, and this is why he is of the most dangerous kind. His is the kind which will spy on a retired army officer for the Taliban or tape an outspoken journalist’s phone calls for the ISI.

Shakil Afridi is not like Julius Rosenberg, who was moved by genuine concern into committing anti-state activities. He is more like Mir Jafar and Mark Zborowski who did it to improve their personal fortunes. If he had taken on other professions, he would be a pilfering servant, a smuggling driver or an adulterating shopkeeper. That’s as high as this man could ever get.

So much for the doctor’s treason.

The US congressman who wants to award this man America’s highest civilian reward would do well to remember that when it came to his own country’s traitors, they were the least forgiving. Before Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed, the prosecutors were only able to prove that the two held unpopular beliefs. It couldn’t be convincingly established that the two had spied for the USSR. Even if later some compelling evidence emerged against them, it doesn’t change the fact that they were sent to the electric chair without complete evidence. It’s then very unbecoming of him to ask us to let go our traitor when his own country wouldn’t do that with theirs. What if we, too, concur with Louis Farrakhan’s statement? Can’t we say for this doctor what Louis Farrakhan said for Malcolm X?

Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with [Malcolm] like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours?

Dana Rohrabacher must realize that whatever be Dr Shakil Afridi’s contribution to world peace and in war against terrorism, back in his own country he remains what he really is: A hireling, and a hireling will always remain a hireling. Pay upfront and this belly dancer will dance for anyone. I wish the congressman could just say,

Yes, Dr Shakil Afridi is a belly dancer, but he is our belly dancer.

No one must own another human being, and it’s as beastly an act, as ghastly a thought, to be owned by a state or a church as it is to be owned by another man. When treating man as property becomes a norm, it also becomes a norm to break him on wheel, burn him at stake and send him to gas chambers. There are too many sacred figures to respect, too many blasphemous words to avoid, that claustrophobic and adventurous rarely die a natural death. However, when Shakil Afridi is tried for treason, there is no need to think of such men.

Shakil was neither adventurous nor a man with high ideals. He was just an unscrupulous, unprincipled sellout. Still, he mustn’t be tried for giving away army’s bargaining chip or shattering countless dreams of the Islamic Caliphate; he should be tried merely for his inability to refuse a good offer.

 

M Ahmad Razi

M Ahmad Razi

An ACCA student at a private institution in Pakistan who tweets @godhpur

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.