Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) chastised the Obama administration on the Senate floor today for sending Pakistan more money despite its closure of a NATO supply route (only re-opened with a U.S. apology) and the 33-year prison sentence for an informant who helped in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
“President Obama sent them another billion dollars last week,” he said. “We already send Pakistan $2 billion and they disrespect us, so what did we do? We send them another billion dollars. People around this town are bemoaning there’s not enough money for our military yet we took a billion dollars out of the Defense Department and – an extra billion and sent it to Pakistan last week.”
Paul reiterated that he has gathered the signatures to force a vote on his bill to freeze aid to Pakistan unless Dr. Shakil Afridi is released.
“The leadership doesn’t want to allow a vote on this, but I will one way or another get a vote on ending aid to Pakistan if they continue to imprison this doctor,” Paul said. “He has an appeal that will be heard this Thursday. If he’s not successful in his appeal, if he is still in prison for life, we will have a vote in the Senate on ending all aid to Pakistan. Not a small portion of their aid. Every penny of their aid, including the billion they got last week.”
The State Department responded shortly afterward to the question of how much U.S. assistance has been provided to Pakistan since the re-opening of the supply route with vagueness.
“While figures for this fiscal year are not yet available, since the passage of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation in October 2009, the U.S. Government has disbursed $2.8 billion in civilian assistance, including approximately $1 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance,” said the press office in a statement. “Our non-humanitarian civilian assistance funds are spent in five priority sectors: energy, economic growth, stabilization of vulnerable areas, education, and health. Notably, in 2011 the people of the United States supported the construction of 210 kilometers of road in FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, funded the world’s largest Fulbright exchange program, and sponsored initiatives promoting private sector growth and civil society development in Pakistan. With regard to Coalition Support Funds, we refer you to the Department of Defense.”
Paul said he wants his bill to make sure representatives “will be recorded on whether or not they want to continue to send your money to Pakistan while Pakistan imprisons this doctor who helped us get bin Laden.”