President Trump hasn’t forgotten about one of his less-publicized campaign promises.
The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by the president on Friday withholds $33 million in foreign aid to Pakistan until the release of Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA locate and kill terror leader Osama bin Laden, Fox News reports.
Afridi assisted American intelligence by running a fake hepatitis vaccine program that allowed the CIA to confirm bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, Pakistan via comparison of DNA samples.
Lt. Col. Michael Waltz, a counter-terrorism adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney, called Afridi’s role in the bin Laden capture-or-kill mission “critical.”
While hailed as a hero in America, the physician was imprisoned on charges of treason in his home country and reportedly tortured by Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, including being burned with cigarettes and electrocuted.
On the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to negotiate Afridi’s release.
“I think I would get him out in two minutes, I would tell them ‘let him out,’ and I’m sure they’d let him out because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan, we give a lot of money to Pakistan,” then-candidate Trump told Fox News in April 2016.
In January, the Trump administration withheld $2 billion in aid to Pakistan for allegedly harboring terrorists, a move that prompted infuriated Pakistanis to burn American flags.
President Trump proclaimed that Pakistan would “no more” receive US help while giving “safe haven” to terrorists.
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018