If the Senate Appropriations Committee has its way, Pakistan’s military assistance package will be docked $33 million— $1 million for every year the doctor who assisted the U.S. in tracking down Osama bin Laden sits in a Pakistani jail.
The amendment by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was adopted during the full Appropriations committee markup of the State and Foreign Operations bill on Thursday with a unanimous 30-0 vote. A Pakistani court this week sentenced Shakil Afridi, a doctor from the Khyber tribal area, to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA collect DNA for a vaccination program, which eventually confirmed the al-Qaida leader’s presence in Abbottabad where he was killed last May.
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“We need Pakistan. Pakistan needs us. But we don’t need a Pakistan that is this double dealing,” said Graham, ranking member of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee.
"I just hope it makes the point," he added.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, also blasted the prosecution from a country that has “said all the right things” about joining the U.S. to find and take out Osama bin Laden. “When Osama bin Laden was finally eliminated, [the Pakistanis] go after the people who might have helped in that,” Leahy said. “It is outrageous.”
The State Department has also denounced Afridi's sentencing, with spokeswoman Victoria Nuland insisting the U.S. does not see any basis for the charges against him.
The funding for Pakistan within the draft bill is already 58 percent, or $1.4 billion, below the administration’s request—and full funding is also contingent upon Islamabad opening up key supply routes for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
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