Washington: An American lawmaker has introduced a bill in the Senate, seeking to eliminate foreign aid to Pakistan until the conviction of Shakil Afridi, the physician held for helping CIA find Osama bin Laden, was overturned.
It proposes to strip Pakistan of all US foreign aid until Afridi’s recent 33-year prison sentence is overturned and he is allowed to leave Pakistan, Online news agency reported.
Another bill introduced by senator Rand Paul seeks to grant Afridi US citizenship for his efforts. “Pakistan must understand that they are choosing the wrong side. They accuse Dr. Afridi of working against Pakistan, but he was simply helping the US capture the head of Al Qaeda. Surely Pakistan is not linking their interests with those of an international terrorist organisation. Foreign aid has been an abysmal failure precisely for this reason – we give the aid to governments who then turn and work against our national interest. That must end,” Paul said.
Last week, Paul wrote a letter to US President Barack Obama, urging a delay in the release of foreign military financing to the government of Pakistan, and to hold all aid until Afridi was released.
Earlier, Geo News reported that the US State Department is still awaiting a clarification from Pakistan on Afridi. “We’ve not received any updates. And our position’s very clear,” the report quoted US State Department spokesman Mark Toner as saying. He said the US didn’t think there were ever any grounds for Pakistan to hold Afridi, much less convict him of any wrongdoing.
Afridi helped conduct a phony polio vaccination campaign at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to secure the DNA of bin Laden and his family.
Osama was killed in a operation by US special forces at his mansion in Abbottabad near Islamabad last May. Afridi was arrested at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham while allegedly trying to flee the country.