EDITORIAL: Persecuting our bin Laden informant

Rand Paul: Obama shouldn’t reward Pakistan’s bad behavior

Should Pakistan be rewarded for imprisoning a hero who helped bring down Osama bin Laden? Sen. Rand Paul says no.

Shakil  Afridi is a Pakistani physician who helped the United States obtain DNA  samples that confirmed the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.  He currently is serving a 33-year sentence for treason, allegedly for  ties to the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam but in fact for his role in  the bin Laden raid. Some senators are seeking ways to bring pressure to  bear on Islamabad to right this wrong.

In  June, Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, along with five cosponsors,  submitted S. 3269, a bill providing that no foreign aid would be sent to  Pakistan until Dr. Afridi is freed from prison, the charges against him  are dropped and he is allowed to leave the country if necessary for his  safety. “President Obama sent [Pakistan] another billion dollars last  week. We already send Pakistan $2 billion and they disrespect us, so  what did we do? We send them another billion dollars,” Mr. Paul said on  Tuesday. “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.”

Mr.  Paul says he has enough signatures to bring the bill to a vote and  pledged to do so pending the results of a July 19 appeals hearing in  Pakistan on Dr. Afridi’s case. On Wednesday, however, the commissioner  of the Frontier Constabulary, Tariq Jemeel, canceled the session because  the relevant documents hadn’t been provided to the court. Authorities  in Peshawar, where Dr. Afridi is being held, have warned the national  government about threats to his life from the many Islamic militants  incarcerated in the same jail. Islamabad isn’t interested in taking  responsibility for Dr. Afridi from the Federally Administered Tribal  Area where he was convicted, and no other province wants to accept a  prisoner transfer.

There  is dire need to pressure Pakistan to focus on this case and stop the  miscarriage of justice. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has  said he should be freed but the State Department has been unwilling to  discuss using foreign aid or other forms of leverage to secure his  release. The fragility of the relationship is illustrated by a U.S.  apology earlier this month for the Nov. 26 border incident in which 24  Pakistani troops were killed in a U.S. air strike. After that exercise  in diplomatic fence-mending, there is no political will to play hardball  with Islamabad, especially not over the fate of one heroic man.

Mr.  Paul is giving senators the opportunity they need to stand up and be  counted. The message of S. 3269 is that foreign countries shouldn’t view  aid from the United States as a given. Human-rights matters as grave as  Dr. Afridi’s unjust imprisonment should bear heavily on the decision to  continue to send billions of borrowed dollars to Pakistan, particularly  in times of economic distress at home. Americans should know which of  their senators would choose to cut these payments and who would continue  them. As Mr. Paul explained, “It is the least the taxpayers deserve.”  Not to mention Dr. Afridi.
 
Should Pakistan be rewarded for imprisoning a hero who helped bring down Osama bin Laden? Sen. Rand Paul says no.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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