Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi made a truly gutsy call: He orchestrated a fake vaccination campaign to obtain DNA that was used to confirm that Obama bin Laden lived in the Abbottabad compound where US Special Forces killed him a year ago. His reward for doing America and the world a favor? First, the Obama administration apparently outed him in the process of crowing about getting bin Laden, and then the Pakistani government convicted him of treason. He had no chance to defend himself in court over the ludicrous charge and now faces 33 years in prison.
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut $33 million in aid to Pakistan.
The punitive move came on top of deep reductions the Appropriations Committee had already made to President Barack Obama’s budget request for Pakistan, a reflection of the growing congressional anger over its cooperation in combatting terrorism. The overall foreign aid budget for next year had slashed more than half of the proposed assistance and threatened further reductions if Islamabad fails to open overland supply routes to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Pushing aside any diplomatic talk, Republicans and Democrats criticized Pakistan one day after the conviction of Shakil Afridi. The doctor ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence at the compound in Abbottabad where U.S. commandos found and killed the al-Qaida leader in May 2011.
The United States has called for Afridi’s release, arguing that he was acting in the interest of the United States and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s response: Telling the US to butt out of its affairs. Pakistan harbored bin Laden for years and has double-dealt throughout the long war on Islamist terrorism. Its initial reaction to the raid that got bin Laden was to howl in pain, and then sidle up to China.
Perhaps it’s time we respect Pakistan’s wish to its logical conclusion and cut off all aid altogether.
The failure to protect Afridi from Pakistani injustice is a serious stain on the Obama administration. It sends the message worldwide that trusting and helping the Americans is a losing bet.