Tag Archives: USAID

US needs to take a new approach to aid

USAID Pakistan

As Congress continues looking for ways to trim spending, officials in the Obama administration are worried that some lawmakers may be considering shrinking civilian aid to Pakistan. They are right to worry as this would be a mistake.

Experts on both Pakistan and international aid and development agree – attempts to ‘buy’ Pakistan’s cooperation will always fail. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, using civilian aid as a ‘carrot’ by tying disbursement to unrelated security conditions is deeply humiliating. The underlying change mechanism requires that a sovereign government be, in essence, for sale. Even if one can find such a pliable partner, their shelf life will invariably be limited.

Another reason that aid is not a realistic tool of leverage is that the amounts in question are simply not large enough to buy anyone off. As we noted last month,

The Kerry-Lugar-Burman bill (KLB) provides for $1.5 billion in economic aid annually for five years. While this aid is valuable, it represents about 0.3 percent of the nation’s GDP. Moreover, in the first year of KLB, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that only $179.5 million was actually disbursed. Even if it were possible to buy Pakistan’s cooperation, this amount of foreign aid is simply insufficient to do so.

But the most convincing reason is found in empirical evidence – what are the outcomes we have seen from US aid? Since the US pledged billions of dollars in civilian aid to Pakistan – all tied to security-related conditions – military-to-military relations between the US and Pakistan have actually soured. If aid is tool of leverage, it’s a very bad one. But that doesn’t mean that civilian aid has not had a positive impact.

Though delivery mechanisms still need improvement, as the Washington Post reporter found, using aid as an investment in improving the lives of ordinary Pakistanis does pay long term dividends.

Last summer, USAID used $500 million to help Pakistan cope with ruinous floods. More than $60 million went toward seed and fertilizer for farmers whose crops were flooded out in villages such as Jangi, in the northwest, where anger pulsates over CIA drone strikes in the nearby tribal belt.

On a recent day, farmers in the village said they had expected to lose this spring’s wheat harvest. Instead, there was a bumper crop, and they attributed the success to U.S.-funded seeds and canals.

“Earlier, it was our perception that the United States was only for destruction,” said Noor Nabi, a community leader in the village. “But in that critical time, it helped us.”

Civilian aid can result in outcomes that benefit both Pakistani and American interests. In order for this to happen, though, the US needs to reconsider the goals of civilian aid. The goal should not be to ‘buy’ Pakistani cooperation, but to strengthen civilian institutions and civil society so that America’s natural allies in Pakistan – the Pakistani people – have the ability to determine Pakistan’s future.

Sadanand Dhume, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, notes that “democracy, however messy, is the only alternative to the military-jihadist complex that has stunted Pakistan’s economy and tarnished its international reputation.”

A sensible Pakistan policy, as outlined by [Bruce Riedel], would make strengthening its fragile civilian institutions the underlying goal of all U.S. engagement. The U.S. needs strong intelligence and military-to-military ties with its Pakistani counterparts, but unlike in the past these should not come at the cost of stunting Pakistani democracy.

Using aid as a means of leverage in military-to-military relations weakens US influence and delays democratic reforms that will move Pakistan away from destructive, anti-democratic policies rooted in a Cold War mindset. By continuing to use aid as a ‘carrot’ to lure Pakistan into taking actions that provide short-term security gains, the US is actually setting back its own long-term objectives for the region. It’s time for a new approach.

US Increases Flood Assistance, Expects To Do Even More

The US has pledged an additional $20 Million in flood relief assistance to Pakistan this week, bringing the total monetary aid to $55 Million. At a State Department briefing yesterday, Mark Ward, the Acting Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and Dan Feldman, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, discussed the priority that the US is making to helping the people of Pakistan.

At present, the US has pledged at least $55 Million and expects that number will grow as more information is gathered about needs on the ground and how the US can most effectively help Pakistanis.

Americans are also flying helicopter rescue missions and have delivered more than 100,000 pounds worth of humanitarian commodities and transported more than 700 Pakistanis out of remote areas.

Pakistan’s Ambassador the United States, Husain Haqqani, has been meeting with senior American officials at the White House and the State Department to coordinate relief efforts.

US Increases Assistance to Pakistan Flood Relief

US sends 30 additional helicopters to aid flood relief efforts

(APP) The United States has vowed sustained support for Pakistan’s flood recovery effort and urged the world community to step up its cooperation with the South Asian country in coping with the major international humanitarian disaster. As many as 30 U.S. helicopters will now participate in the Pakistan flood relief effort. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani held meetings with senior American officials at the White House and State Department and also spoke to Pentagon officials on the need to provide air transportation support as monsoon rains and flooding continued to afflict people and property over unprecedented vast territories.

Continue reading

US Declares Pakistan Flood Relief a Top Priority


Relief efforts to aid Pakistan’s flood victims is a top priority of the US government said US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, on Friday.

According to the transcript of a telephone briefing on the American response to the flood disaster, Ambassador Patterson said,

For the last week, the U.S. Government has been working to support Pakistan’s Government as it struggles to save lives and property. Secretary Clinton, who has been deeply engaged in building a strong relationship between the United States and Pakistan, has made our support for Pakistan in this time of crisis a priority. Our government is fortunate to have a number of people here and in Washington with substantial experience available to assist and support Pakistan, including several who were here during the earthquake. We are using the unique capabilities of our government to help save lives and to provide humanitarian assistance in full partnership with the Government of Pakistan.

In fact, the original pledge of $10 Million to help flood victims has been more than trebled by the US government, which has now pledges at least $35 Million to provide humanitarian assistance and aid relief efforts.

The U.S. has already committed $35 million in assistance to flood-affected populations. The money will be provided by USAID to international organizations and established Pakistani NGOs to provide food, health care, and shelter for those displaced by the floods. This is being supplemented by existing programs that we had in place to help many of these same people who were formerly displaced by fighting in Swat. And we are working now to identify gaps.

Additionally, the American government has provided vital resources in helicopter flights, inflatable boats, water filtration, and steel bridges.