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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.
U.S. - Pakistan relations, troubled in the best of times, have been unusually rocky of late. A recent cover story in The Atlantic dubbed Pakistan the “Ally from Hell.” CGD’s Study Group on the U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan argues that the strong U.S. interest in a stable, prosperous Pakistan makes savvy U.S. support for development there more important than ever. In this week’s wonkcast, post-doctoral research fellow Milan Vaishnav and policy analyst Danny Cutherell discuss the recent upsets in U.S.-Pakistan relations and offer practical suggestions, drawn from the CGD Study Group’s report and a recent open letter from CGD president Nancy Birdsall to deputy secretary of state Thomas Nides, which focuses on U.S. support for private sector growth in Pakistan.
Lifting American trade barriers to Pakistani goods could serve as a useful tool of U.S. foreign policy. Unfortunately, recent proposals to extend duty-free market access for Pakistani exports are extremly limited due to concerns about job loss in the U.S. textile industry. However, this study shows that concerns are exaggerated and that market barriers for all Pakistani goods should be droped.
The debate over U.S. foreign assistance in Pakistan has grown hotter lately, with Stanford political scientist Stephen Krasner arguing in Foreign Affairs that the United States should get tough by threatening to halt aid to Pakistan to force the country into cooperating better on security matters. CGD president Nancy Birdsall responded with an article in Foreign Policy. Drawing on the recommendations of a 2011 CGD study group report, Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan, she argued that U.S. development assistance should be focused on helping to create a stable, prosperous Pakistan—goals that are in America’s own best interest and would be ill-served by trying to use the aid as a bargaining chip.
2014 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for US-Pakistan relations. The US will be pulling out of Afghanistan; the Strategic Dialogue is continuing; and Kerry-Lugar-Berman will expire. And these are just the knowns.
CGD’s Study Group on US Development Strategy in Pakistan has spent the past several years identifying where US development strategy in Pakistan has gone wrong—and identifying practical solutions for improvement. Following our latest Study Group meeting, Nancy Birdsall, president of CGD and chair of the study group, sent this open letter to Ambassador Jim Dobbins, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.