On Bin Laden Anniversary, Security Concerns Push Afridi Decision to June
The conclusion of Dr. Shakil Afridi's appeal has been postponed until June 13 due to security concerns following a suicide bombing that appeared to target the presiding officer, Sahibzada Anees, earlier this week.
Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports that Anees could not be present for the conclusion of the appeal today, as planned. May 2 is, coincidentally, the second anniversary of the successful U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden, made possible in part through the efforts of Dr. Afridi's vaccination program. His role was later discovered and he was imprisoned for 33 years following a hasty tribal justice process in which he had no legal representation.
The bombing this week that killed ten and injured dozens is one of several terror attacks that the Taliban have mounted in the run-up to Pakistan's May 13 election. Anees serves as the local Police Commissioner as well as the presiding officer for appeals under the British colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulation system.
Dr. Afridi is currently reported to be on a hunger strike in protest at his lack of access to legal counsel, the denial of family visits, and general conditions at the prison in Peshawar. Last month, his family pleaded with President Barack Obama to intercede directly with the Pakistani government to secure his freedom.