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

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora