Sen. Rand Paul said on Thursday that he would seek legislation in Congress next week to keep the $50 million in taxpayer money promised to Pakistan. Paul said that because Pakistan imprisoned the physician who helped the CIA track down and kill Osama bin Laden last year, they should not receive the money, saying this form of diplomacy doesn’t work and weakens the U.S. internationally.
“I don't think we should give any taxpayer money to a government that's imprisoning a guy who really ought to be treated as a hero,” the Kentucky Republican told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, referring to Shakil Afridi. “I have legislation that would cut off the Pakistani aid and would also grant U.S. citizenship to this doctor and let him and his family come to our country.”
“This doctor was brave enough to turn him in and to help our CIA, and Pakistan's now imprisoning him for 33 years,” Paul said. “This doctor helped us, and now we're letting him languish in jail and giving money to the government that is holding him in prison.”
Earlier this month, Afridi was accused of running a false vaccination campaign, in which he collected DNA samples, that is believed to have helped the American intelligence agency track down bin Laden in a Pakistani town.
The al Qaeda leader, 54, was killed in a unilateral U.S. special forces raid in the town of Abbottabad in May last year. A $50 million bounty was on his head.
“I will try to attach it to a bill,” Paul said of the legislation. “And I'm going to try to draw attention to this because I don't think there's any U.S. taxpayer out there that wants their money being sent to Pakistan when Pakistan treats their people this way.”
As for the U.S. conducting diplomacy with taxpayer dollars, Paul said: “Just practically, it doesn't work. We've been trying to buy dictators throughout the world for the last 50, 60 years. We paid Mubarak $60 billion over time. What did he do? He and his family stole it. And we did it with Mobutu in Congo. We did the same with Mugabe in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. So I don't think it really works.
“And these people steal from their people, and even from a humanitarian perspective, it doesn't get to the people. Their leaders steal it immediately once it gets there.
“But in this case, it's really just insulting to the American people to send it to the Pakistani regime, which is threatening Christians with execution.”
Further, Paul added: “I don't think we're strong enough. We negotiate from a position of weakness. Right now, Pakistan would release him tomorrow if we threatened not to give them the $1 billion in foreign aid we're going to give them.
“Now, we did reduce it, but at the same time, I think they would understand a position of strength. If we had a president who tomorrow said: ‘You don't get one penny of U.S. taxpayer money unless you release this gentleman, unless you start treating Christians with compassion, unless you start talking about having religious freedom in your country . . .’”
Van Susteren noted that, given the amount of aid Pakistan gets from the U.S., the $50 million for bin Laden’s death could easily be meaningless and asked Paul what would happen if Pakistan received no money at all.
“What happens when we negotiate from a position of strength is they react,” he responded. “In Egypt, I threatened to cut off Egypt's aid, and the 16 Americans who were there were released. So I think when you do threaten their aid, you get results.
“When you give them their money and try to buy their friendship and just look the other way, you get more of the same. We did this for decade after decade with Mobutu in Congo. He was torturing his rivals. His people had no running water, had no electricity, and he was living in palaces.
“It doesn't work,” Paul continued. “Besides, it makes no sense anymore because we're borrowing the money from China to send it to Pakistan or to send it to Egypt. We don't have money to be sending around the world.
“We shouldn't be doing it. Seventy-five percent of the American people are opposed to this. So I think things should change. This should be a wake-up call for people.”
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