Pakistan’s clear message to the U.S.: don’t violate our sovereignty. Its message to its own citizens: don’t even think about cooperating with the CIA. To ensure that Afridi would be found guilty and sentenced harshly, Islamabad arranged to have him tried in a government court presided over by a tribal political agent in consultation with a council of elders under the 19th-century Frontier Crimes Regulations that were drawn up by the British colonial power at the time. Under the FCR, the court is not subject to the Pakistani constitution, and its sentences are usually harsher than those handed down by the mainstream Pakistani court system. Nor can the sentences of tribal courts be appealed in normal Pakistani courts. Once sentenced, Afridi was transferred immediately out of the Khyber tribal agency and thrown into the Central Prison in Peshawar.
The government insists it will ensure his safety. But many Pakistanis are not so sure. In the court of public opinion, he is seen as a traitor. Not surprisingly, the Pakistani Taliban praised the sentence. “In my heart I wanted to kiss feet of the political agent for punishing Shakil with a lifelong prison term,” Janfida Wazir, a Pakistani Taliban commander from the South Waziristan tribal agency, tells The Daily Beast. “Our mujahideen, Sheik Osama’s family, and I are very happy with the great judgment of the political agent.”
Wazir also says militants are determined to kidnap or kill Afridi if they get the chance. “Shakil is a dead man already,” he says. “The government can’t build a separate jail for him.” Afghans and Pakistanis who are cooperating with the U.S. eventually will meet Afridi’s fate and be abandoned by the U.S., adds Wazir. “What happened to Afridi is a good lesson for those puppets of the U.S. in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he says. “They will be thrown away like rubbish after the U.S. has achieved its goals.”