According to reports out of Washington, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will attempt to stall the confirmation of President Obama’s nominee to fill the post of U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. Reportedly, Paul will stall the process until Pakistan releases a Pakistani doctor who played a vital role in the manhunt that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.
This is not Senator Paul’s first foray into the fight for the doctor’s freedom. In a conference call with reporters last month, Paul reiterated to reporters his call to withhold aid to Pakistan pending that country’s release of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who is being held in a Pakistani prison on a 33-year sentence. Afridi ran a vaccination program in that city that was allegedly just a front for a CIA operation to obtain a DNA sample that would verify bin Laden’s presence in the city. A senior CIA official told the New York Times that the effort ultimately was unsuccessful.
According to news sources inside Pakistan, Afridi’s appellate hearing has been scheduled for August 30, and local officials fear for his safety based on reports of serious threats from militant inmates in the same facility.
Also in July, Senator Paul sent a letter to President Obama urging a delay in the release of American monetary support to Islamabad, and the denial of all aid until Dr. Afridi is released. He also has introduced legislation, S.B. 3269, calling for the same action.
“Democrats and Republicans always say that the key to Afghanistan is securing cooperation with Pakistan,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) told The Hill in a statement when asked about Senator Paul’s plans to delay the confirmation hearings. “That's reason enough to have a top notch diplomat in place in Islamabad. This is a complicated relationship that demands constant attention.”
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Photo of Rep. Rand Paul (R-Ky.): AP Images