Washington, Aug. 5: A Republican senator is holding up U.S. President Barack Obama’s nomination for ambassador to Pakistan to pressure Islamabad to release the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama Bin Laden.
Senator Rand Paul objected to the nomination of Ambassador Richard Olson, pushing off his confirmation by the Senate until at least September, reports The Nation.
A staunch defender in Congress of Dr. Afridi, Senator Paul has doggedly pursued a vote on a bill that would strip all U.S. aid to Pakistan unless Dr Shakil Afridi is released from prison.
According to the paper, some Congressional leaders have warned that holding onto Olson’s nomination could further damage America’s already strained relations with Pakistan.
“Democrats and Republicans always say that the key to Afghanistan is securing cooperation with Pakistan. That’s reason enough to have a top-notch diplomat in place in Islamabad. This is a complicated relationship that demands constant attention,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry.
A defiant Paul said he would keep pressing the issue till Afridi is released.
“We are still hopeful that Pakistan will relook at the evidence and decide that they don’t want to hold him. If they do, we will probably not press for the vote. If they don’t, I have 16 signatures to try to force a vote,” Paul said. (ANI)