US cuts Pakistan aid over jailing of 'Bin Laden doctor'

Shakil Afridi. File photo Shakil Afridi could end up spending 33 years in prison

A US Senate panel has cut $33m (£21m) in aid to Pakistan in response to the jailing of a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has said it will cut US aid by $1m for each year of Shakil Afridi's sentence.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said his term was "unjust and unwarranted".

Dr Afridi was tried for treason under a tribal justice system for running a fake vaccination programme to gather information for US intelligence.

Bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.

The move from the Senate panel follows earlier cuts to the White House's budget request for Pakistan. The cuts would be part of a bill that would send $1bn in aid to Pakistan in the next financial year.

"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 Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, calling Pakistan "a schizophrenic ally".

Meanwhile Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said: "It's Alice in Wonderland at best. If this is co-operation, I'd hate like hell to see opposition."

Hillary Clinton: ''We regret both the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence''

Correspondents say the cuts reflect mounting frustration in Congress over Pakistan's role in fighting terrorism on its soil.

Absent from court

Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton spoke out against Dr Afridi's sentence.

"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," Mrs Clinton told reporters on Thursday.

She added that she would continue to pursue the issue with the authorities in Pakistan.

The killing triggered a rift between the US and Pakistan, whose government was seriously embarrassed as it emerged Bin Laden had been living in Pakistan.

Islamabad felt the covert US operation was a violation of its sovereignty.


The question being asked is, if Dr Afridi really thought he had brought harm to the Pakistani security establishment, why didn't he leave the country during the 20 days that the Pakistanis took to discover him?

A brief insight into what he did or did not know is provided by a retired brigadier of the Pakistani army, Shaukat Qadir, who was tasked with conducting an investigation into the affair.

Quoting Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) officials privy to Dr Afridi's interrogation, Brig Qadir suggests he probably did not know he was helping the Americans track down Bin Laden.

Analysts say the Pakistani establishment has done this not only to defy the Americans but also to send a message to all Pakistani contacts of American diplomatic missions to desist from repeating Dr Afridi's "mistake".

Shortly after the raid on Bin Laden's house, Dr Afridi was arrested for conspiring against the state of Pakistan.

Pakistan has insisted that any country would have done the same if it found one of its citizens working for a foreign spy agency.

"I think as far as the case of Mr Afridi is concerned, it was in accordance with Pakistani laws and by the Pakistani courts, and we need to respect each other's legal processes," its foreign ministry spokesman Moazzam Khan told reporters on Thursday.

Dr Afridi was found guilty in Khyber district, and sentenced to at least 30 years in jail as well as being fined $3,500. If he does not pay the fine his prison sentence will be extended by a further three years.

Dr Afridi, who is now being held in jail in Peshawar, was not present in court so was unable to give his side of the story.

In June, Pakistani army officials told the BBC that some suspects were arrested for helping the Americans refuel their helicopters during the raid. Others were detained because they were suspected of firing flares to guide the helicopters towards the compound.

It is not clear what DNA Dr Afridi managed to collect in the fake hepatitis B vaccination programme. The idea was to obtain a blood sample from one of the children living in the Abbottabad compound, so that DNA tests could determine whether or not they were relatives of Bin Laden.

It is also unclear if Dr Afridi even knew who the target of the investigation was when the CIA recruited him.

"Shakil actually didn't know he was looking for Bin Laden," Shaukat Qadir, a former Pakistani brigadier who investigated the Abbottabad raid and has been privy to details of Dr Afridi's interrogation, told the BBC.

But he said Dr Afridi should have notified the Pakistani authorities of his activities.

"Pakistan's help should have been sought and if they wanted to use somebody as an agent to assist the CIA, they should have gone to the ISI and said, 'we have this man in mind - would you mind if we use him for this purpose?' And I think that would have been fine," Brig Qadir said.

US officials have said they kept the raid secret from Pakistan because they could not trust their counterparts in the hunt for the al-Qaeda leader.

The issues of drone strikes and Pakistan's refusal to re-open Nato supply routes to Afghanistan have also recently severely strained the two allies' relationship.

Pakistan's parliament has called for an end to the use of drones, and says they are an attack on its sovereignty. Drone strikes in the past two days have killed 12 people in the North Waziristan tribal area, security officials said.

Osama Bin Laden US special forces caught up with Bin Laden in a quiet Pakistani town last year

The two countries also failed to reach agreement at the Nato summit in Chicago over the supply routes that were closed after a US air strike in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Islamabad is demanding more than $5,000 (£3,200) per lorry in transit fees, up from its previous rate of $250, to let supplies flow again. US officials have said they will not pay that much.


More on This Story

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  • Comment number 201.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    If you can't buy cooperation against a radical mulsim terrorist organisation from a commonwealth country for $1bn then we will just get more unilateral action.

    There'll never be an end to drone airstrikes or islamophobia when neither reason or bribery can get you what you need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    11 Minutes ago

    Dr Bob has been on one too many conspiracy theory sites i think!
    No, neither do I subscribe to Fox news, I have lived through the arrogance of the USA for over half a century, and after a time you realise that the stench of corruption is not your enemy but your closest ally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    What is this thing called foreign aid, they are talking about in the west?

    In non western countries they know it by a different animal, can you spell bribe.

    Such an old way to be master over weak 3rd world leaders, now we have treat of sanctions and WMD patrolling and drone policing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Pakistan started digging its own grave long ago when it adopted exploiting religion (Islam) as part of state foreign policy and assumed self-imposed custodian of Islam in the world. It's least democratic & highly feudal country with barbaric "blasphemy" law. Check this excellent interview by famous Indian & Muslim scholar, Javed Akhtar- 2 part

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    how quickly Bradley Manning fades into American memories...

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    4 Minutes ago
    If 9/11 happened earlier

    9/11 ended in 1971 when UK changed to decimal currency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    The Rockabilly Red
    3 Hours ago

    Re 59: Clearly, you are misinformed. There is not a country called 'Palestine' for any body to occupy, and there never has been.

    As the country which had the UN Mandate to administer Palestine, I can say absolutely that you are completely wrong. Not only ignorant of legal and historical facts, your arrogance is a typical bullying tactic based on propaganda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    The lack of compassion on HYS (for any topic) always saddens me.

    Its all about me, me me.

    Yes the governments are corrupt but surely as fellow human beings we have a responsibility to help the less fortunate.

    The US (& UK) is very rich in comparison to many Asian or African countries - even in hard times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    If 9/11 happened earlier- Western powers, mainly US, understood Pakistan & its use of Islamic terrorism as part of its foreign policy better.That could have saved thousands of lives in Pakistan itself, then Kashmir & other parts of India & many other countries while saving the West the worse, long term headache. Pakistan is a foreign policy challenge & diplomatic minefield for most countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Does this mean the US government would have no problem if it found out an American doctor was running a "fake vaccination program" for American children in order to provide information to the spy agency of one of their allies to use for some purpose unknown to him or them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    3 Hours ago

    Why are we giving any aid to a nuclear armed state?
    Why do we support a nuclear armed state that has started more conflicts, invaded more countries, destabilised more elected governments, changed regimes in countries because they did not mirror image the US. The US should be held to account, they continue to be the interfering bullies of the world

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Dr Bob has been on one too many conspiracy theory sites i think!

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Pretty simple isn't it - don't bite the hand that feeds you.... They may not be happy with USA inference, but you can't accept money on that scale and not have to bend a little

  • Comment number 187.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    I used to think that Doctors were fairly intelligent people. Thanks Dr Bob Mathews for finding the words to cure me of that illness......

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    2 Hours ago I think your mistaken, the worlds most wanted criminal together with his friend in the UK started a war in Iraq, when their original placeman Saddam had the cheek to go private and sell some of his country's oil to other countries not in the US owned cartel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    people should stop moaning. its pak's internal matter what they do with him.if you really care about human rights etc then first look at yourself in the mirror. killing thousands of innocent people in various wars is just what we have done.
    Whereas USA violates human rights all around world and then teach other countries to follow it. For Pak they should refuse the hefty/conditional aid

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    @Mohammed Begum..... i find the bare faced cheek of pakistan 'disgusting' dare they ask for aid to train terrorists, end all aid and flights from there

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    I'm so sick of Pakistan playing the innocent victim. Do you really think the world's most wanted man can live in a military town with retired generals as neighbors and a military school down the street for 6 years without official help? These butchers murder your people possibly more than any others and you are more interested in convicting a good man and blaming others for the woes.


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