A Senate panel expressed its outrage over Pakistan's conviction of a doctor who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, voting to cut aid to Islamabad by $33 million — $1 million for every year of the physician's 33-year sentence for high treason.
The punitive move came on top of deep reductions the Appropriations Committee already had made to President Barack Obama's budget request for Pakistan, a reflection of the growing congressional anger over its cooperation in combating terrorism. The overall foreign aid budget for next year had slashed more than half of the proposed assistance and threatened further reductions if Islamabad failed to open overland supply routes to U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.
At the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States believes Dr. Afridi should be released.
“His help was instrumental in taking down one of the world's most notorious murderers that was clearly in Pakistan's interest as well as ours and the rest of the world,” Ms. Clinton told reporters, adding that the United States will continue to press the issue with Islamabad.
In crafting the overall legislation, the committee reduced Mr. Obama's request to aid Pakistan by 58 per cent as resentment and doubts linger in Congress a year after bin Laden was killed deep inside Pakistan.