WASHINGTON- Hectic lobbying by Pakistani diplomats, headed by Ambassador Sherry Rehman,led to the collapse of a move by an American Senator seeking cut off of US aidto Pakistan.
SenatorRan Paul, a Republican, sought to attach an amendment to a pending farm billbut Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, stalled the move even thoughWashington-Islamabad tensions remain high, making it difficult to lobby forPakistan on Capitol Hill.
Theamendment would have defunded US aid to Pakistan until the country released DrShakil Afridi who helped CIA in tracking down Osama bin Laden.
Reidasked for unanimous consent on Tuesday to consider a batch of five amendmentsto the farm bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 , but Paulobjected, arguing that his amendment on withholding aid to Pakistan should alsobe included.
Inresponse, Reid used a procedural move called â€œfilling the tree,â€ or taking upall the amendment space, to keep Paulâ€™s amendment from being considered.
Duringthe past two weeks, Ambassador Sherry Rehman met American lawmakers on the Hillas relations between the two countries remain soured in the backdrop of a spateof unilateral American actions and allegations and Pakistanâ€™s refusal torestore NATO supply lines.
ThePakistani diplomats thanked all those who assisted behind-the-scenes in gettingthis important amendment blocked.
ASenate aide, who had been working closely with the Embassy, said: â€œIt isimportant to note that after July, when the election campaign goes into fullgear, many more such amendments are expected, and will be practicallyimpossible to block or defeat once they get tacked on to foreign assistanceclauses. Despite what we or the Embassy says here, the mood against Pakistan isgetting very negative over the last seven months. Right now, we were able tohelp Pakistan because the amendments could be knocked out for technicalclauses, and Ambassador Sherry Rehman has left no stone unturned there.â€