WASHINGTON: A Senate panel voted to cut aid to Pakistan by a symbolic $33 million on Thursday, $1 million for each year of jail time handed to a Pakistani doctor convicted of treason for helping the United States track down Osama bin Laden.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment to the $52 billion US foreign aid budget in a 30-0 vote in a sign of growing outrage here over Pakistan's conviction of Shakeel Afridi.
"We need Pakistan, Pakistan needs us, but we don't need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama bin Laden to an end," said Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who pressed for the measure.
Afridi was found guilty of treason, sentenced Wednesday to 33 years in prison and fined 320,000 rupees ($3,500).
Afridi ran a fake vaccination program designed to collect bin Laden family DNA from the compound in Abbottabad, where the Al-Qaeda leader was shot dead in a US commando raid in May 2011.
The US government says Pakistan has no basis to hold Afridi.
"He is not a spy, I can tell you," said Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "He should be praised and rewarded."
"If this is how Pakistan is going to treat a friend and hero, I don't know about these funds," Feinstein said.
The mammoth appropriations bill, which includes a total of $1 billion in assistance for Pakistan, will go now to the Senate floor after passing out of committee on Thursday.
That represents a 58 percent cut in the amount of aid Obama had requested for Pakistan -- an expression of the anger in Congress at Islamabad for not reopening supply routes frozen since US air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. (AFP)