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US Senate further slashes Pak aid

Outraged over the conviction of a Pakistani doctor who helped CIA track Osama bin Laden, two US Senate panels have voted overwhelmingly to cut aid to Islamabad by USD 33 million - one million for every year of the physician's 33-year sentence for high treason.

The Republicans and Democrats closed ranks to unanimously vote that the Senate Appropriations committee cuts USD one million per annum Dr Shakil Afridi spends time in jail, reflecting the growing Congressional anger towards Pakistan over its lack of cooperation in combating terrorism.

The punitive action by the lawmakers came close on the heels of deep cuts announced in the key Senate panels in assistance to Pakistan.

The Appropriations Committee approved the amendment moved by Senator Lindsey Graham to cut the aid on a 30-0 vote on Thursday.

The same day, another Senate Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee, limited the availability of the USD 1.75 billion Coalition Support Fund (CSF) unless the Defence Secretary certifies that Afridi has not been imprisoned.

In a statement after the markup of the National Defence Authorisation Act 2013, the committee said it authorises USD 1.75 billion in CSF to reimburse cooperating nations supporting the effort in Afghanistan, but limits the availability of such funds to reimburse Pakistan until the Secretary of Defence certifies that Islamabad meets certain criteria.

The criteria include not supporting or providing safe haven to insurgents attacking US, Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and not imprisoning Shakil Afridi. 'The Secretary of Defence may waive these certification requirements if in the US national security interest,' the committee said.
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