Over the last 15 years U.S. taxpayers have been forced to give Pakistan 33 billion in aid—with no strings attached. While this did not buy us any badly needed road repairs or other infrastructure attention at home, one would think this fortune at least bought us some influence with the Pakistan government. Not so. Shakil Afridi is the Pakistani doctor our CIA claims was instrumental in discovering Osama bin Laden’s hideout, which led to his capture (and death). Practically since then, Afridi has been in jail on what a member of his own government calls “trumped-up charges.”
Perhaps his wrongful incarceration is due to his being an embarrassment to the Pakistani government; Osama was hiding nearly in plane sight within a half mile of a military academy not seventy miles from their capital city.
Some in congress have been frustrated over our inability to affect Afridi’s release, and have complained that the State Department is failing to “leverage our aid.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby supplied this official response to the idea of getting something for our taxpayers’ sacrifices:
‘We believe that such conditions limit the president and the secretary’s ability to conduct foreign policy in the best interest of the United States.” (link)
This is exactly the political hack mentality for deal-making that Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized on his campaign trail. And this unprofitable circumstance has not escaped Mr. Trump’s attention. A few days ago, Trump suggested that, as president, he would affect Afridi’s release “in two minutes.”
In the Pakistani government’s rebuking response to Trump’s statement they compared the 33 billion we gave them to “peanuts.” They are only half right. In place of getting tens of billions in necessary repairs to our aging infrastructure, U.S. taxpayers are getting ‘peanuts.’
To be fair, not every U.S. citizen is losing on this deal.
It turns out the Military Industrial Complex is getting some pretty sweet peanut butter. They are scheduled to sell the Pakistanis eight F-16 fighter jets that the Pakistani government will purchase with our ‘peanuts.’ So, the next time you experience a few of those molar-clapping potholes on the way to working for your own ‘peanuts,’ or endure one of those rolling blackouts this summer, be comforted: One day, you’ll have plenty of ‘peanuts’ in the wild, blue yonder.