A day after Pakistan sentenced a doctor who helped catch Osama bin Laden to 33 years in prison, the US Senate retaliated – by docking $1 million for every year of the sentence from their Pakistan aid budget.
The Senate Appropriations Committee already decided to slash the assistance budget to its oft-unreliable ally by 58% from last year, when Republican Senator Lindsey Graham proposed a symbolic and costly amendment.
“We need Pakistan, Pakistan needs us, but we don’t need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama bin Laden to an end,” said Graham.
The amendment was voted for unanimously by both Republicans and Democrats on the key financial committee.
“We’re not going to be giving money to an ally that won’t be an ally,” Graham summed up.
Dr. Shakil Afridi carried out a fake vaccination campaign, in reality aimed at gathering the DNA of bin Laden’s inner circle in the run up to the raid that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist last May.
At the time, Pakistan was offended that the US did not co-operate with its security services when planning the operation on its territory.
The authorities arrested Afridi soon after. On Wednesday, he was convicted by a “frontier” court, with a government official presiding instead of a judge. He was accused of working for a foreign agency – the CIA.
The US has pressed for Afridi’s immediate release.
The Appropriations Committee still decided to allocate a little under $1 billion in assistance to Pakistan, but promised to slash it further if Pakistan continued to block US supply routes to Afghanistan.
Pakistan says the block is a result of repeated drone attacks that have accidentally killed Pakistani civilians and soldiers. The US claims Pakistan is using the incidents to “extort” more money for passage fees.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said, “If this is cooperation, I’d hate like hell to see opposition.”