US senator seeks no aid to Pak till Afridi’s release
Washington: Expressing strong concern over news reports of torture and false allegations against Dr Shakil Afridi, a top US Senator has sought an early Senate vote on his legislation seeking to block all assistance to Pakistan till the release of the physician.
In a letter to Senator Harry Reid on Monday, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Rand Paul demanded that no foreign government as blatantly defiant of American priorities as Pakistan should benefit from billions upon billions of American taxpayer dollars.
"It is time for that practice to come to an end," he said, adding that the Obama Administration is now releasing USD 1.2 billion in addition to the USD 2.1 billion being given by the United States to Pakistan every year.
"I will continue to work tirelessly to keep this issue front and centre. America should not give foreign aid to a country whose government is torturing the man who helped us kill Osama bin Laden. We should not be giving foreign aid to any country that is not clearly our ally. This must end, and this week I will renew my push for a vote on this issue, including holding up Senate business to accomplish this goal," Senator Paul said in a statement after he sent the letter to Reid.
In his letter, which was released to the press, Paul said it is now abundantly clear that Pakistan has no intention of pursuing a proper and just hearing for Afridi and just this month the Director General of the ISI indicated it would be in the best interest of the United States to "forget the matter of Dr Afridi."
Paul said that it is time for the Senate to show that it has not forgotten or turned a blind eye to the physician issue.
"In a letter dated July 12, 2012, I asked that you work with me to schedule a vote on my bill to end aid to Pakistan until Afridi is freed, S. 3269. As of today, that vote as not been scheduled," he added.
"As you know, the number of work days in the 112th Congress is dwindling, and Congress may break for the November election as soon as next week. Because of the urgency of seeing that Afridi is freed, I am prepared to pursue any and all means to secure a vote on my bill immediately, including objecting to other Senate business and recessing the Senate for the election," Paul said.
Noting that the appeal date for Dr Afridi, who remains in Pakistani custody, has been delayed several times, Paul said while his next court date is set for September 27, his lawyers now believe that the repeated delays are nothing more than a stalling tactic by Pakistan's intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
"Since his arrest, as recent media accounts have revealed, Dr Afridi's personal finances have been raided by the ISI, he has been kept in inhumane conditions, forced to sign false confessions under torture, and been subjected to a wave of false accusations made by persons who, in some cases, do not exists," he said.
The senator claimed that Afridi has maintained that he he acted in support of the CIA's Abbottabad vaccination operation out of "respect and love for" the American people.