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US Senate body fumes over Afridi sentencing

Publication Date : 25-05-2012


A US Senate panel yesterday voted unanimously to cut aid to Pakistan by US$33 million, or $1 million for every year Dr Shakil Afridi will spend in prison for helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden.

Observers on Capitol Hill say the 30-0 vote aims at sending a powerful signal to Pakistan, “release Dr Afridi or face the consequences”.

The proposed $33 million is only a small fraction of the annual US aid to Pakistan but it comes from the Foreign Military Financing fund, which underlines Congress’s unhappiness with the Pakistani military.

Lawmakers who participated in the debate made little attempt to hide their indignation.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator who introduced the amendment, called Pakistan a "schizophrenic" ally while Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, counted it among America’s opponents.

And Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, called Pakistan an al-Qaeda-friendly nation.

Senator Graham warned that Pakistan would lose "substantial funding" if an agreement couldn’t be reached on reopening the Nato supply routes.

“This conviction says to me that Al Qaeda is viewed by the court to be Pakistan,” said Senator Feinstein. “I don’t know which side of the war Pakistan is on. This makes me seriously question our financial support to Pakistan.”

The cut represents about 4 per cent of the $800 million earmarked for Pakistan for 2013, including $250 million in foreign military aid and another $50 million from the Counter-insurgency Support Fund.

The original $800 million was already far below the $2.3 billion the Obama administration had requested for Pakistan.


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