Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke about the 33-year treason sentence given to Pakistani Doctor Shakil Afridi for his role in helping identify Osama bin Laden. Her remarks came during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup on the bill that funds the State Department and other foreign operations.
“I’d like to speak briefly on a recent event that calls into question the $800 million in this bill that goes to the Government of Pakistan.
I have long believed that Pakistan, and especially its intelligence service, the ISI, walks both sides of the street. Even with an invitation to President Zardari to join NATO member states to discuss the future of Afghanistan in Chicago, Pakistan has not yet allowed the passage of trucks into Afghanistan and is demanding an exorbitant user fee for each container that crosses the border.
It is assessed that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, resides in Quetta, Pakistan, and with him other members of the senior shura. The Haqqani Network resides and operates out of North Waziristan, and is responsible for the deaths of more than 500 of our troops in Afghanistan. Until May 2 of last year, Osama bin Laden lived in a compound in Abbottabad, the home to numerous retired Pakistani military leaders.
And two days ago, we learned that the Pakistani judicial system sentenced Dr. Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison on charges of treason. Treason—the crime against one’s own country, which is so serious that it is the only crime named in our Constitution.
Pakistan convicted this man of treason because he was found to have assisted the CIA in efforts to locate Osama bin Laden and determine if he was at the Abbottabad compound. This wasn’t a crime against Pakistan. It was an effort to locate and help bring to justice the world’s number one terrorist, a man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and thousands of Pakistanis.
The Pakistani Government maintains to this day that it was unaware of bin Laden’s presence in the country and that it in no way provided him with safe harbor.
So I am baffled at how Dr. Afridi, who should be praised and rewarded, can be labeled as a traitor. I don’t know which side of this war Pakistan is on.
This makes me seriously question our financial support to Pakistan. I recognize that $475 million in this bill goes to economic support, counternarcotics and law enforcement funding, and I don’t have a problem with that. But the bill also includes $250 million in foreign military financing and $50 million for Pakistan’s counterinsurgency.
If this is how Pakistan is going to treat a friend and hero like Dr. Afridi, I don’t know about these funds.”