US Senate panel cuts aid to Pak over doctor conviction

Washington:  Outraged over the prosecution of a Pakistani doctor for helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden, a US Senate panel on Thursday voted unanimously to cut aid to Pakistan by USD 33 million,or USD 1 million for each of the physician`s 33-year prison sentence.

The unanimous vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee on the amendment moved by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is reflective of the changing mode in the US and growing frustration among US lawmakers on Pakistan.

The committee approved Graham`s amendment on a 30-0 vote. A Pakistani court on Wednesday sentenced or Dr Shakil Afridi to 33 years of rigorous imprisonment after finding him guilty of "spying on al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden without bringing it to the notice of the government of Pakistan".

"This conviction says to me that al-Qaeda is viewed by the court to be Pakistan. I don`t know which side of the war Pakistan is on. This makes me seriously question our financial support to Pakistan," powerful Senator Dianne Feinstein said during the markup.

Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Lindsey Graham called Pakistan a "schizophrenic" ally, which has suffered the worst losses at the hands of Islamic militants while at the same time harboring the Haqqani network and other groups.

"If this is cooperation, I would hate like heck to see opposition," Leahy said.