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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 brief examines options for a COD Aid contract in Pakistan’s education sector and its potential benefits for improving the relationship between official donors and the government of Pakistan, and for increasing the effectiveness of aid spending in Pakistan.
This essay draws on the work of the Center for Global Development's
Study Group on U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan and on the ideas in the group's open letters to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to present five recommendations for spending aid money well in Pakistan.
In the fourth open letter to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Nancy Birdsall conveys the recommendations of the CGD study group on a U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan for necessary strengthening of USAID's staff capacity to better design and deploy an effective development strategy in the country.
Over on the Global Dashboard blog, Seth Kaplan has posted a critique of CGD’s Pakistan initiative. In a post titled, “What’s Wrong With CGD’s Pakistan Initiative” Kaplan knocks the CGD Pakistan initiative for saying “almost nothing specific about Pakistan”; “ignoring the “drivers of its political economy”; and relying on “one-size-fits-all solutions.” As members of CGD’s Pakistan initiative, we welcome Seth’s critique of our work (indeed, we were happy to feature another one of our critics in a previous blog) and take this as an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding about our approach and findings.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah stated that the United States will be working to significantly decrease the number of development projects it is currently supporting in Pakistan, from the current 140 to 35 by the end of September 2012. In Dr. Shah’s words, “If we [the U.S.] are trying to do 140 different things, we are unlikely to do things at scale in a way that an entire country of 185 million people can see and value and appreciate. We are just far more effective and we deliver much more value to American taxpayers when we concentrate and focus and deliver results.” Shah goes on to clarify that the United States will not be cutting back on the overall amount of assistance it provides: it plans to adhere to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman framework of $7.5 billion over 5 years.
I applaud Administrator Shah’s call for greater focus in the U.S. assistance portfolio and his explicit emphasis on “results.” After all, as my colleague Connie Veillette has pointed out, the Obama Administration’s Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on global development explicitly called for greater emphasis on “selectivity” and “results” in U.S. development assistance.
This post originally appeared on Foreign Policy's AFPAK page.
In the January/February 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, Stanford political scientist Stephen Krasner claims that "current U.S. policy toward Pakistan has failed" and recommends that the United States take a radically different approach: credibly threaten to sever all forms of cooperation, including all U.S. aid - military and civilian - to force Pakistan into cooperating with the United States on security matters. Center for Global Development President Nancy Birdsall responds.
It’s not a stretch to say that United States-Pakistan relations are at a low point. Indeed, it seems just when Washington and Islamabad think bilateral relations cannot get any worse, they inevitably do. The latest fallout stems from the accidental NATO bombing in November 2011 of Pakistani military outposts, resulting in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan immediately shut down critical NATO supply routes and the negotiations to re-open them have gone nowhere. To add insult to injury, Pakistan faces a slew of minor crises on its home front, relating to the economy, politics, and of course, security. In Washington, support for civilian assistance to Pakistan is rapidly waning. With this as background, the United States is also undergoing two major personnel transitions in Islamabad. U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter and USAID Mission Director Andrew Sisson have both announced their intention to step down this summer. This staff turnover, while a distraction in the short run, also provides an opportunity for the United States to re-brand its civilian assistance program in Pakistan. Our latest open letter to Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides urges the United States to support Pakistan’s “democratic machinery” with more USAID innovation, stronger Pakistani think tanks and research groups, and more independent media.
Vice-President Joe Biden is way ahead of the U.S. foreign policy community on the basics of what the United States can do in Pakistan. Let’s review two things he said during his recent visit to Islamabad, speaking to reporters from the perspective of someone who, during his time in the Senate, helped develop and championed the 5-year, $7.5 billion aid package now called Kerry-Lugar-Berman. First:
“The one last misconception I'd like to address is there are those who point to America’s history in this region and claim that eventually we will abandon Pakistan . . .we have learned from the past that . . . the only productive way forward is a long-term enduring partnership.”