Two days of US drone strikes against North Waziristan already solidified that tensions between the US and Pakistan weren’t going to be soothed by the Chicago summit invite, but the Senate Appropriations Committee today decided to cut a trivial portion of Pakistan’s aid in an extremely provocative manner.
The $33 million cut, which passed unanimously, came as the Senate’s way of spiting Pakistan for sentencing Dr. Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison for high treason. $1 million for every year, officials explained.
The committee meeting was mostly an excuse to give anti-Pakistan speeches, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who pushed for a bigger cut, demanding that Pakistan see “the justice” of the US assassination of Osama bin Laden.
That’s the official US line, anyhow, where Dr. Afridi’s sentence is punishment for helping to kill bin Laden. His role in the assassination, however, is the bigger issue in Pakistan. Afridi organized a phony child vaccination program in rural Pakistan on behalf of the CIA, one of the places on earth most desperately in need of real vaccination programs.
Instead of vaccinating children, Dr. Afridi was collecting the DNA of children to be screened against CIA records of terrorist DNA to look for relatives. It did lead to bin Laden’s assassination, but the program also taught locals that foreign aid programs were liable to be a CIA plot, and forced at least one major aid agency, Save the Children, evacuating its workers from Pakistan because its past links with Afridi made its whole program look suspect.
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