Shakil Afridi can be released in exchange for Aafia Siddiqui, says Imran Khan

Pakistan PM Imran Khan during an interview
Pakistan PM Imran Khan during an interview

Washington: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that in a possible prisoner swap agreement with the United States in future, the exchange of Aafia Siddiqui with Shakil Afridi can be discussed.

Imran was giving an interview to Fox News, where he was responding to a question about Shakil Afridi, the man sentenced to 33 years for involvement in anti-State activities by a local tribal court in 2012.

“It was not talked about today but in future, we know that the United States wants Shakil Afridi so we can negotiate…no negotiations have started but with Aafia Siddiqui, we could negotiate,” said PM Imran to the host Bret Baier, adding that the possibility of a prisoner swap agreement in future remained a viable option.

Although Imran said that the issue was quite “emotive” as “Afridi was considered a spy in Pakistan as the country considered itself a US ally”.

“There are some decisions in a democracy that even a prime minister finds difficult because we have opposition but this is something that can be negotiated. We also have someone in prison in the US, it’s a frail woman called Aafia Siddiqui so yes we could negotiate some kind of swap,” he said.

The premier reminded the host that Pakistan also lost 70,000 people in the war against terror and it was fighting it for the US.

While responding to a query about prisoners in detention in Afghanistan, the PM said: “There are two or three I think Americans, one Australian, who have been kidnapped and held in Afghanistan and Pakistan is playing its part and I think we are very close and we hope to give some good news in the next 48 hours,” PM Imran said.

The PM said that he really wanted to resolve the longstanding issues with India and the US can help in achieving that.

“Yes. Nuclear war is not an option between Pakistan and India. The idea of nuclear war is actually self-destruction. Because we have a 2,500-mile border. Also, I think there is a realisation in the sub-continent […] there was some incident, happened in last February and we had tension at the border. An Indian plane was shot down in Pakistan so there is a realisation and that’s why I asked President Trump if he could play his role,” he added.

He said, “The US is the most powerful country in the world, the only country which could mediate between Pakistan and India and resolve the only issue which is Kashmir. The only reason for 70 years we have not been able to live like civilized neighbours in Kashmir.”

Imran expressed hope that India would come to the table for negotiations. While in the same vein, the Pakistan PM also discussed the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

“There is no need to worry about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons because Pakistan has one of the most professional Armies. We have one of the most comprehensive command and control of our nuclear weapons and the United States knows about it because we share our intelligence with the US about the way we have safety measures about our nuclear programme,” he said.

“I can’t say about Iran wanting a nuclear weapon but as a neighbour of Iran, we certainly hope that this does not become a full-blown conflict,” he said, adding that the matter will also affect the oil prices and UAE and Saudi Arabia would do anything for a peaceful resolution.

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Written by NewsWrap Staff

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