News / Asia

    US, Pakistan Question Aid

    US Senator John Kerry (L) speaks to Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 16, 2011
    US Senator John Kerry (L) speaks to Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 16, 2011

    Officials in Pakistan and the United States are reassessing their partnership in the fallout from the covert U.S. raid into Pakistan that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. This re-evaluation includes whether the U.S. should continue giving Pakistan billions of dollars in annual assistance.  

    The fact that the United States found and killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani territory has thrown the relationship between the two countries into uncertainty, especially in terms of whether or not Washington should continue aid to its partner in the war on terrorism.

    From the American side, questions are being raised concerning what the U.S. gets in return for the nearly $4 billion in annual assistance for the Pakistani military and development programs.

    Speaking at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting this week, Senator Bob Corker said many U.S. lawmakers are reconsidering this help.

    "I think most of us are wanting to call time-out on aid until we can ascertain what is in our best interest in what I would consider more of a transactional relationship," he said.

    There is also criticism on the Pakistan side about U.S. aid. Some point to the fact that much of the assistance is in fact loans that Pakistan is obligated to pay back.

    Shabaz Shariff is the chief minister of Punjab province, Pakistan's richest and most populous region. He said the obligations that America demands of Pakistan in return for the aid are no longer acceptable if Pakistan wants to remain independent of outside influence.

    He said it is possible that you accept foreign aid, but when they forward you a list of their demands, you arrogantly refuse to accept them. "I believe that we cannot claim sovereignty for our country as long as we rely on foreign aid," said Shariff.

    On Friday, Punjab canceled six aid agreements with the United States.

    Punjab's leadership is held by the main opposition party in Pakistan, the PML-N. There is criticism from some in Pakistan that the party is trying to score political points in the current environment by making symbolic cuts to U.S. aid.

    Analysts say any rejection or withdrawal of U.S. aid may cause real damage in the long-term. Pakistan's reputation could suffer along with its pocketbook as other investors re-assess their investments in the country. The International Monetary Fund, in particular, has an $11 billion loan to Pakistan that analysts say is essential to the economy.

    For USAID director in the country, Andrew Sisson, it is a time to keep a close eye on politics, both in Pakistan and in the United States, because long-term programs are key.

    "I am following very closely politics here and politics in the United States," he said. "Yes, I am hoping our program won't be cut. Because we are all about partnership. And long-term development is based on trust and long-term investments, and reduction in that or a cut in that would undermine that longer term partnership we are trying to develop. I hope it doesn't happen."

    There are many experts on Pakistan who say that if the U.S. did turn its back on Pakistan, it could backfire.

    As Pakistani economist Qais Aslam puts it, the last time the U.S. slapped sanctions on Pakistan following the 1998 testing of nuclear weapons, it helped drive Pakistan into the hands of Islamist extremists.

    "America did this mistake once before when we had a nuclear blast. And they cut down on our aid and our relationship with, economic. And look what happened? We became a home to terrorism. And if they are going to do this again, they might send us back to that," said Aslam.

    It was only after the September 11, 2001, attacks that the U.S. began to fully re-invest in Pakistan. Since 2002, America has provided $20 billion. Much of that aid has been in military assistance so that Pakistan could pursue extremists in the volatile border region near Afghanistan.

    But there also is so-called soft power - trying to provide infrastructure development, education and stability in areas recently won over from extremists. And that, said USAID director Sisson, could be a significant factor in eliminating the international threat from terrorists based in the region.

    "Helping Pakistan grow economically, create more jobs, a healthier population - we believe contributes to a more stable Pakistan," he said. "We are making a lot of investments directly in areas where there is, or has been recently, conflict generated by extremists."

    According to many in the American leadership, including Senator John Kerry in his recent visit to Pakistan, the need for stability in Pakistan outweighs the importance of singling out or punishing the country for any perceived assistance in sheltering bin Laden.

    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Pentagon: Afghan Hospital Bombing Not a War Crime

    US Central Command's Joseph Votel says probe found tragedy was result of 'extraordinarily intense situation' that included multiple equipment failures

    US Minorities Link Guns with Other Social Ills

    New study finds reduction in gun violence could help lower America’s incarceration rate – the world’s highest - and improve relationships between police, citizens in minority communities

    US Millennials Beat Baby Boomers as Largest Living Generation

    America's young people are about to take over and here's what we can expect from them

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora