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Possible prisoner exchange with Pakistan in the works

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Shakil Afrid cropped

A trade may be in the works — one of our prisoners for one of Pakistan’s, just like a Cold War-era spy novel. And although the price Pakistan is demanding is high — an al-Qaida operative — the man they’re offering in return is someone we owe the world to, yet turned our back on.

Pakistan is about to propose releasing Dr. Shakil Afridi, the pro-American physician who provided U.S. intelligence with the details of Osama bin Laden’s compound as well as DNA samples of its residents. This information sealed the deal to go ahead with the raid that led to bin Laden’s death, according to Fox News.

Rather than pull Afridi from Pakistan during or shortly after the raid, we left him there, and he was arrested soon afterwards. If Pakistani authorities had any doubt as to the doctor’s role in the raid, it was removed when, eight months later, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on “60 Minutes” and acknowledged his participation and expressed fear for his safety. Afridi was subsequently tried and sentenced to 33 years in prison.

In return, Pakistan reportedly wants yet another physician — U.S.-trained neurosurgeon Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a suspected al-Qaida operative who was arrested after attempting to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. She is now serving an 86-year sentence at a Fort Worth, Texas, federal prison. Khalid Sheikh Muhammed eventually identified Siddiqui as an al-Qaida courier and operative.

Fox News reported:

A Pakistani Interior Ministry official who requested anonymity told FoxNews.com the prisoner exchange is still being drafted. The official said it would take at least a month before the newly formed task force constituted by Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan can finalize an agreement to present to the Obama administration and discuss the terms of a deal.

Details still to be ironed out include a mutual agreement to label prisoners as terrorists or traitors, according to politician Imran Khan, who refers to Afridi as a “collaborator of illegal U.S. activities in Pakistan.” The United States, on the other hand, wants Pakistan to admit Siddiqui is an al-Qaida operative.

When you play with snakes, you’re bound to get bitten. We’ve been playing with this particular serpent for far too long now. Time to make the deal and get the hell out of the snake pit.

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