Friday, May 25, 2012

Drone Strikes Kill 15 | Aid Cuts for Pakistan

The dialogue to open NATO supply routes through Pakistan has hit another big stick moment.

For the second time in 24 hours CIA drone strikes targeted people in Pakistan’s frontier zone. Pakistani intelligence report that ten people were killed in an early morning attack on Thursday. Five had been killed on Wednesday.

Halting drone strikes has been a key demand by the government of Pakistan before the transit routes are re-opened.

The US congress has also voted to slash economic aid to Pakistan following the sentence of a Pakistani doctor to 33 years in prison for his role in helping US forces to locate Osama bin Laden.

Shakil Afrid was found guilty under the justice system in Khyber district, part of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal belt.

Details from the Wall Street Journal:
“A Senate panel expressed its outrage over Pakistan's conviction of a doctor who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, voting to cut aid to Islamabad by $33 million -- $1 million for every year of the physician's 33-year sentence for high treason.

The punitive move came on top of deep reductions the Appropriations Committee already had made to President Barack Obama's budget request for Pakistan, a reflection of the growing congressional anger over its cooperation in combating terrorism. The overall foreign aid budget for next year had slashed more than half of the proposed assistance and threatened further reductions if Islamabad failed to open overland supply routes to U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.”

In addition,

“The congressional anger over the conviction and the supply routes extended to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which completed a $631.4 billion defense budget Thursday. The panel added a provision stipulating that before Pakistan can be reimbursed with coalition funds, the secretary of defense must certify that Pakistan is opening and maintaining the supply routes, is not supporting the Haqqani network, and not detaining or imprisoning Pakistani citizens, according to Sen. John McCain, a Republican.”
US Special Forces went into Pakistan and killed bin Laden last May without notifying the government. Seven months later US forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross border attack into Pakistan.

Following the attack, Pakistan closed the airbase that the US used for its drone strikes, kicked out all CIA operatives and closed the borders to Afghanistan preventing the movement of NATO ground supplies to the war.

A Parliamentary review issued the following guidelines.

In March at a regional summit held in the Tajik capital Dushanbe , Pakistan earned a sanctions threat after reassuring Iran and other regional countries that proposed gas pipeline projects will go ahead as planned.
“… President Asif Ali Zardari told his counterparts from Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan that his country was committed to completing the Iran-Pakistan (IP) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline projects. “I look forward to working with you on all issues of mutual interest,” he added.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned earlier this month that Pakistan could face US sanctions if it pressed ahead with the gas pipeline project with Iran. “[This] would be particularly damaging to Pakistan because their economy is already quite shaky,” Clinton had told a Congressional hearing.”
Additional Reading: Why Pakistan Matters | Zia Mian & Sharon K. Weiner

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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