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Talks with Pakistan on NATO supply route stalled as US withdraws team

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One of the major sticking points to a reopening of NATO supply lines was the conviction of the Pakistani doctor who helped the US track Osama bin Laden

Two days after the summit, Pakistan sentenced Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped identify Mr. bin Laden via a fake vaccination campaign, to 33 years in prison. The Senate Appropriations Committee promptly cut $33 million in aid to Pakistan – $1 million for every year of his sentence.

Tribal documents have subsequently revealed that Dr. Afridi was sentenced for actively supporting the banned militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam, and its leader Mangal Bagh. In a text message to journalists, Lashkar-e-Islam denied the link. In a press briefing, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the alleged link “doesn't change [the US] view” and that the US will continue to “urge the Pakistani Government to consider his appeal.”

“The Americans have hardened their positions after the Afridi case. They were furious. Dr. Afridi's conviction came at a bad time and set us back in our negotiations with the US,” says Fawad Chaudhury, an adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The recent negotiations come after a year of an increasingly deteriorating relationship. The deaths of three Pakistanis in the hands of CIA agents in the beginning of last year, the US Navy Seal raid that killed bin Laden and was seen as a breach of Pakistan's sovereignty, and the border attack in November have been detrimental to the partnership.

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