De­lay U.S. aid un­til Pak­istan re­forms, re­port says

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY ASHISH KU­MAR SEN

The United States must de­lay much of a $7.5 bil­lion aid pack­age to Pak­istan un­til the South Asian ally rid­dled with corruption and anti-Amer­i­can mil­i­tancy makes ma­jor eco­nomic re­forms, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

A task force of the Cen­ter for Global De­vel­op­ment also ques­tioned the ef­fec­tive­ness of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars the United States al­ready has spent in Pak­istan.

“By fund­ing Band-Aid fixes that de­lay out­right cri­sis and make it eas­ier to avoid nec­es­sary but dif­fi­cult so­lu­tions, even well-im­ple­mented aid can de­lay en­dur­ing so­lu­tions to Pak­istan’s most se­ri­ous prob­lems,” the re­port says.

It added that the “pure act of de­lay­ing dis­burse­ment in cer­tain sec­tors will ben­e­fit both the Pak­istani re­form process and the ultimate ef­fec­tive­ness of U.S. aid.”

“Aid is only go­ing to be a very small part of the so­lu­tion in Pak­istan,” said Wren El­hai, a co-au­thor of the re­port, “Be­yond Bul­lets and Bombs: Fix­ing the U.S. Ap­proach to De­vel­op­ment in Pak­istan.”

He noted that Pak­istan’s growth had slowed not be­cause of a lack of aid, but be­cause of the lack of re­form, es­pe­cially of the tax sys­tem and en­ergy sec­tor. Ac­cord­ing to some an­a­lysts, less than 2 per­cent of Pak­ista­nis pay in­come tax and many also pay noth­ing for elec­tric­ity.

“The U.S. can’t buy those so­lu­tions,” Mr. El­hai added.

Re­cent polls have found anti-U.S. sen­ti­ment ram­pant in Pak­istan.

The cen­ter’s re­port faults the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to lump Pak­istan and Afghanistan to­gether un­der a so­called “Af-Pak” pol­icy, say­ing this has “mud­dled” the Pak­istan de­vel­op­ment mis­sion.

“The in­te­gra­tion of de­vel­op­ment, diplo­macy, and de­fense has [. . . ] left the pro­gram with­out a clear, fo­cused man­date,” the re­port says.

The re­port comes amid calls in the United States to cut aid to Pak­istan af­ter Osama bin Laden was killed May 2 in a Navy SEAL raid barely a mile from Pak­istan’s na­tional mil­i­tary academy. Some mem­bers of Congress suspect Pak­istan’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vice were shel­ter­ing bin Laden.

At a Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee hear­ing last month, Sen. Bob Corker, Ten­nessee Repub­li­can, said most lawmakers want to “call time out on aid” to Pak­istan.

A bill spon­sored by Sens John F. Kerry, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, and Richard G. Lu­gar, In­di­ana Repub­li­can, and Rep. Howard L. Ber­man, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, pro­vides $7.5 bil­lion in U.S. aid to Pak­istan over a pe­riod of five years.

Only $179 mil­lion has been al­lo­cated to Pak­istan since the bill was ap­proved in Oc­to­ber of 2009 be­cause Pak­istan has failed to meet the cr iter ia spelled out in the law, Mr. Lu­gar, co-chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said last month.

The cen­ter’s re­port said that U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment dis­bursed $275 mil­lion in the 2009 fis­cal year and $676 mil­lion in 2010.

The re­port does not re­com- mend cut­ting off aid to Pak­istan.

“Walk­ing away now would send a ter­ri­ble sig­nal as to why we are en­gaged in Pak­istan,” said Mr. El­hai.

“When you have a diplo­matic cri­sis, or a se­cu­rity cri­sis, all of a sud­den what is sup­posed to be a long-term eco­nomic as­sis­tance pro­gram gets hi­jacked by short­term con­sid­er­a­tions and starts to be seen both here in the U.S. and in Pak­istan as just an­other short­term bar­gain­ing chip and that is deadly to the long-term mis­sion.”

The re­port says the high hopes for the aid pack­age have raised un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions, gen­er­ated mul­ti­ple con­flict­ing ob­jec­tives and in­spired com­pet­ing lines of au­thor­ity.

“This toxic com­bi­na­tion has made what would be a dif­fi­cult mis­sion un­der any cir­cum­stances nearly im­pos­si­ble,” it adds.

The re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude giv­ing Pak­istan’s ex­ports eas­ier ac­cess to U.S. mar­kets.

A USAID of­fi­cial, who spoke to The Wash­ing­ton Times on the con­di­tion of anonymity, said the agency has been care­ful about spend­ing aid in Pak­istan.

“USAID has avoided a rush to spend in Pak­istan, in­stead mov­ing de­lib­er­ately to as­sure that the pro­grams meet Pak­istani pri­or­i­ties, that ad­e­quate accountability and mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nisms are in place, and that pro­gram re­sults match the level of re­sources be­ing com­mit­ted,” the of­fi­cial added.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Whose side is he on? A Pak­istani army sol­dier stands guard on a hill­top post in Hadambar, in Pak­istan’s Mohmand tribal re­gion along the Afghan bor­der, on June 1.

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