Pakistan tells Trump it's 'not a colony of the USA'
Published 04/05/2016 | 02:30
A furious Pakistan has condemned Donald Trump's "ignorant" claim that he could force Islamabad to free a doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama Bin Laden.
Chuadry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan's interior minister, told Mr Trump that his country "is not a colony of the United States" and would decide for itself on the fate of Dr Shakil Afridi.
It seems that even as the New Yorker was hoping that Indiana's nominating contest will make him unstoppable in what originally had seemed to many a quixotic quest for the Republican presidential nomination, new storm clouds were gathering for the famously blunt-spoken real estate mogul.
Trump enjoys a double-digit polling lead over US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has been campaigning in the Midwestern state almost non-stop since mid-April. Cruz has trumpeted Indiana, one of the last big states left in the fight to get onto the November ballot, as his golden moment to force a brokered nomination at the party's July convention. But it appears to be shaping up as his Waterloo.
Dr Afridi is feted as a hero in the US for running a fake vaccination campaign that led to the raid on Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound in May 2011, but has been in jail in Pakistan for almost five years.
Mr Trump told Fox News on Friday that he would make Pakistan cooperate in freeing Dr Afridi if he were elected as president because the South Asian country needs US aid money. "I think I would get him out in two minutes. I would tell them let him out and I'm sure they would let him out. Because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan," said Mr Trump.
But Mr Nisar responded that Mr Trump's statement "serves to show not only his insensitivity, but also his ignorance about Pakistan."
"Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America. He should learn to treat sovereign nations with respect," he said.
Since 2002, Pakistan has received around $13bn for its support of the US-led war in Afghanistan, in addition to billions more in humanitarian aid.
But Pakistan maintains that it has made huge sacrifices in standing alongside the US since the 9/11 attacks, and suffered the losses of thousands of its citizens' lives as a result.
"The peanuts the US has given us in return should not be used to threaten or browbeat us into following Trump's misguided vision of foreign policy," said Mr Nisar.
Mr Trump's promise to pursue the freedom of Dr Afridi is consistent with several US leaders' demands in recent years. Hillary Clinton, during her tenure as US secretary of state, denounced Dr Afridi's treatment as "unjust and unwarranted", while furious senators withheld $33m of aid in protest.
Mr Afridi was arrested in July 2011 amid revelations that the CIA had organised a fake Hepatitis C vaccination campaign in the area they suspected bin Laden of living in, to try and get his family's DNA.
He remains in prison charged with murder relating to a patient he had treated eight years previously.
The row comes as the US Congress this week forced the withdrawal of a subsidy to Pakistan for the purchase of eight American F-16 fighter jets worth €880m, under intense Indian lobbying.