US cuts $33m Pak aid over Dr Afridi's conviction
25 May, 2012
WASHINGTON: A US Senate panel voted to cut aid to Pakistan by a symbolic $33 million on Thursday, $1 million for each year of jail time handed to a doctor, Shakeel Afridi, convicted of treason for helping the United States track down Osama bin Laden.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment to the $52 billion US foreign aid budget in a 30 to zero vote.
Afridi was found guilty of treason, sentenced on Wednesday to 33 years in prison and fined Rs 320,000.
His sentencing was announced two days after US President Barack Obama appeared to snub President Asif Ali Zardari at a NATO summit in Chicago over Islamabad's refusal to lift a six-month blockade on transit routes into Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has termed the jailing "unjust and unwarranted", vowing to continue to press the case with Islamabad.
"The United States does not believe there is any basis for holding Dr (Shakil) Afridi. We regret the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence," she said.
The appropriations bill will go now to the Senate floor after passing out of committee. It also includes a provision calling for a 58 percent cut in aid for Pakistan if Islamabad does not reopen supply routes.