A fraudulent vaccination campaign orchestrated by the CIA in its quest to find and kill Al Qaeda arch-terrorist Osama Bin Laden has undercut Western-backed Immunization drives against polio and other diseases.
It has also put the Pakistani doctor who aided the CIA in carrying out the program in the Pakistani government’s crosshairs.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a Pakistani government commission investigating the targeted killing of Bin Laden by US forces in May recommended last week that treason charges be filed against Dr Shakeel Afridi.
Afridi, they say, helped carry out a fake vaccination effort designed to obtain DNA evidence from the Al Qaeda leader's sprawling compound in Abbottabad. If Afridi is charged and convicted, he could face the death penalty.
US officials have been seeking the doctor's release since his arrest in May by Pakistani intelligence agents and have defended the ruse, arguing extraordinary measures were needed to track down America’s most wanted – and elusive – terrorist.
But according to the Pakistan Tribune, the ruse not only compounded Pakistan's anger toward the US over the raid but also hampered efforts by Pakistani and Western aid organizations involved in real vaccination campaigns.
Fallout from the phony vaccination drive, Western aid organizations say, has also severely hampered their work and led to harassment by Pakistani intelligence agents suspicious of their affiliations.
"To live and work and get permission to do anything has become more difficult," said Pascal Cuttat, the departing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Pakistan, told Reuters in July. "Everyone is struggling with the bureaucracy."