WASHINGTON: The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment on Thursday, voting to cut $33 million from US assistance to Pakistan under the Foreign Military Financing Act, in response to the sentencing of Dr Shakil Afridi.
Senator Lindsey Graham had introduced the amendment to the bill during a debate on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2013.
Senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties denounced the sentencing of Dr Shakil Afridi under the FCR during the Senate hearing. A release which gave break down of the aid, added that aid to Pakistan had been curtailed since ties with Pakistan had been stalled for months. They also termed the non-expenditure of $881 million earmarked for aid, as a ‘saving’ for the American people.
Per the bill, Pakistan will conditionally receive $1 billion in fiscal year 2013. This includes $184 million for State Department operations. $800.3 million for foreign assistance. And $50 million for Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund.
Dr Shakil Afridi, a doctor working in the public sector, was sentenced to 33 years in jail for committing treason, by helping US intelligence agencies to track down Osama bin Laden in the Pakistan town of Abbottabad.
US to raise Afridi issue with Pakistan
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, addressing a press conference on Thursday said that the US believed the sentencing of Dr Shakil Afridi was “unjust” and “unwarranted”.
She said that the US was in the midst of a series of discussions with the Pakistani government on a range of issues important to the US and the international community, and that the US considered treatment of Dr Afridi among those important issues.
Earlier, a US Senate panel had voted in favour of cuts in aid to Pakistan, threatened to withhold even more cash if Islamabad did not reopen its supply routes for Nato soldiers in Afghanistan, reflecting American frustration over the months-long standoff.
Pakistan had closed the supply routes through its territory to Afghanistan in protest when US aircraft killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border last November.
The Senate panel voted to cut aid to Pakistan by 58% in fiscal 2013 from the request by the administration of US President Barack Obama, said the panel’s chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy, who is a Democrat.
The senators voted $1 billion for Pakistan, including $800 million in foreign aid. However, funding for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund was limited to just $50 million, and that money was tied to the supply lines’ reopening, said Senator Lindsey Graham, the panel’s top Republican.
“We’re not going to be giving money to an ally that won’t be an ally,” Graham had told reporters.