ISLAMABAD: American Senator John Kerry, President Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of state, said during his confirmation hearing yesterday that cutting US aid to Pakistan would be a ‘dramatic, draconian and sledgehammer’ measure.
Senator Kerry also said that Pakistan’s role in leading the United States to Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad had not been sufficiently appreciated.
In his first appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in his new role, Kerry told the senators he foresaw a ‘more rapid’ transition in Afghanistan, allowing an accelerated withdrawal of US troops before the 2014 deadline.
But the senator, who headed the committee before his nomination, assured the Afghans that America’s counterterrorism mission in their country would continue beyond 2014.
It was Senator Rand Paul, a new Republican face in the committee, who suggested cutting US aid to Pakistan ‘if they do not release Dr Shakil Afridi’ who, he said, was imprisoned for helping the CIA in locating Osama bin Laden. The Al Qaeda leader was killed in a US military raid on his compound in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.