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Policymakers view Pakistan as one of the most critical fronts in efforts to combat violent extremism. Different US administrations have taken divergent approaches on development assistance to the country. In 2010, a CGD study group drew lessons from past experiences to offer practical recommendations to US policymakers on the effective deployment of foreign assistance and other, non-aid instruments for achieving sustainable development in Pakistan. It suggested better ways to deploy aid, and ideas to unlock the potential of trade and private investment.
This is a joint post with Wren Elhai and Molly Kinder and firstappeared on ForeignPolicy.com’s AfPak Channel blog. Read the report of the Study Group on U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan here. A response from Alexander Thier, head of USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs can be found here.
For nearly two years, the United States has been trying something completely new in Pakistan. In 2009, with President Obama’s backing, Congress passed a bold piece of legislation that committed the United States to support Pakistan’s people and its economy, as opposed to focusing almost exclusively on the country’s military. The United States would try to help Pakistanis consolidate the transition to democracy they won in 2008, and -- for the first time -- it seemed the United States would place an equal emphasis on long-term development and short-term stability in Pakistan.
So far, however, this new approach has not lived up to its potential. During a recent trip to Pakistan, we listened to dozens of Pakistanis in and out of government tell us of their frustrations with the U.S. aid program and American inaction on trade and investment policies (just look at the ongoing debate about lifting tariffs on the Pakistani textile trade with the United States) that would naturally complement aid. Over the past year, a study group of American and Pakistani experts convened by the Center for Global Development have gathered to figure out what’s amiss—and how to put it right. In a report released today, we sum up the problem this way:
WASHINGTON, D.C.(June 1, 2011)-U.S. and Pakistani development experts are urging a substantial revamp of the U.S. approach to Pakistan, saying that U.S. efforts to build prosperity in the nuclear-armed nation with a fledgling democratic government, burgeoning youth population, and shadowy intelligence services are not yet on course.
In a new CGD report, U.S. and Pakistani development experts urge a substantial revamp of the U.S. approach to Pakistan, saying that U.S. efforts to build prosperity in the nuclear-armed nation with a fledgling democratic government, burgeoning youth population, and shadowy intelligence services are not yet on course.
Even an avid consumer of the news and commentary on Obama’s speech on the Middle East yesterday could easily miss his proposals for supporting job-creating economic growth and development in the region. But long after we have forgotten the media bluster over a possible shift (or not!) in U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine, the president’s seemingly modest suggestions on development just might be making a difference.
The one that intrigues me most involves putting the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to work in the Middle East and North Africa.
It seems everyone has an opinion on what the U.S. should do with its aid to Pakistan. In recent weeks, there have been calls to freeze all assistance to Pakistan – military and economic –and calls to stay the course. Nearly three in four Americans back cuts. Many of the loudest voices in Congress have been for attaching strings to the aid (or enforcing the conditions already in place)—usually demanding that Pakistan do more to root out militant groups within its borders. But it’s worth distinguishing more carefully between military aid and economic aid. The same conditions are not right for each. The obvious example: Withholding aid that supports Pakistan’s civilian democratic government because the military or intelligence services aren’t behaving is cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.