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US Senator threatens to force vote on ending aid to Pak

July 18, 2012 02:03 IST

A key American Senator threatened to force a vote on ending United States aid to Pakistan unless a Pakistani doctor, who helped CIA trace Osama bin Laden, is released from prison.

Senator Rand Paul took to the Senate floor announcing his intention to force a Senate vote that, if passed, would strip Pakistan of all US foreign aid until Dr Shakil Afridi's recent 33-year prison sentence is overturned and he is allowed to leave Pakistan.

Afridi's appellate hearing is scheduled for July 19.

"What I say to Pakistan is if you want to be our ally, act like it. If you want to be our ally, respect us. If you want to be our ally, work with us on the war on terrorism. But if you want to be our ally, don't hold Dr Afridi, don't hold political prisoners, don't hold people who actually are working with us to get bin Laden," he said.

"I will do everything within my power to have this vote ... if Afridi remins in jail next week, I will make them vote on this because it's the least you deserve, the taxpayers deserve to know why are your Senators voting to send your money overseas when we're a trillion dollars in the hole," Paul said.

"Why are your Senators voting to send billions of dollars to Pakistan when they imprison the guy who helped us get bin Laden. This is unconscionable. It has to stop. The debt is a threat to our country; it's a threat to the republic and I will do everything I can to force a vote on this," he said.

"We spent hundreds of billions of dollars searching for him (Bin Laden). Where did we find him?" he asked.

"Not in the remote mountains. We found him living comfortably in the city in Pakistan. We found him living in the middle of this city not far from a military academy. We were helped in this search by doctor Shakil Afridi. How was he rewarded for this heroism? Where is Afridi now? He's been imprisoned by the Pakistani government for 33 years," he said.

"I've obtained the signatures necessary to have a vote on this. 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. He has an appeal that will be heard this Thursday," he said.

"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.

We will attempt to stop all aid to Pakistan," Paul said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it is "very pleased" that the ground line of communications (GLOCs) to Afghanistan is now open.

"There has been some flow; we're not at full capacity yet on shipments through the GLOCs," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

"The relationship with Pakistan remains critical to the United States, and we are, we believe, entering a new phase in our relationship. And are getting past some of the obstacles that we've encountered over the past year and a half to two years," he said.

Lalit K Jha Washington