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Billions of aid dollars buy U.S. little goodwill in Pakistan

Everyone here remembers the Americans.

They came with their blueprints, their engineering know-how and their money. By the time they left in the early 1970s, they had helped build a world-class dam that kept parts of Pakistan dry this month while vast stretches of the country drowned.

"This dam gives great benefit to the nation, and if not for the Americans it would never have been constructed," said Syed Naimat Shah, a local contractor.

But Shah hasn't seen any new assistance from the Americans in decades, and apparently many Pakistanis haven't, either. The U.S. government has provided about $18 billion in civilian and military aid to Pakistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made this country America's most essential, and vexing, ally. Yet according to a Pew Research Center survey released last month, half of Pakistanis believe the United States gives little to no assistance here.

For Obama administration officials, that's a source of deep anxiety -- and frustration. Pakistan is at the center of U.S. hopes to turn around the flagging Afghan war, but persistent anti-American feelings limit the extent of Pakistani cooperation. On her visit to Pakistan last month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mused that Americans must wonder "why we're sending money to a country that doesn't want it."

Pakistanis insist they are not ungrateful. They just don't see any tangible impact from the massive sums the United States spends. Unlike assistance from decades ago, the money from the post-Sept. 11 era, Pakistanis say, tends to vanish without a trace.
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"Everyone here hates the American government," said Shah, a spirited 71-year-old with a stark white beard and a sharp tongue. "I haven't seen a penny of this U.S. assistance."

Analysts say there are many reasons: poor coordination with the Pakistani government, a lack of understanding of Pakistan's needs and a reluctance to produce iconic projects, lest they become targets for terrorists.

"American assistance is always of a nature that is not seen or felt," said Tariq Fatemi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. "How many dams were built? How many highways? Can you touch anything that was built with U.S. assistance?"

U.S. officials say aid money is making a positive impact, if not always a widely noticed one. Since Sept. 11, Pakistan has ranked among the top five recipients of U.S. civilian and military aid, in a group with Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq. But they acknowledge the overall criticism and say they are fundamentally changing the way they spend taxpayer dollars here.

The $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar civilian aid package, passed by Congress late last year, is providing the first big test. Unlike in the past, the money will be routed directly through Pakistani agencies and institutions, and officials say the results will be far more visible.

But already, there have been delays that could keep the money from making an impact anytime soon.

"We're having trouble moving this money," said Robert J. Wilson, the USAID mission director here. "It's not easy to change the approach."

The Kerry-Lugar funds, which will be spread over five years, were intended to help erase the widespread perception that the United States cares only about supporting Pakistan's military.

Indeed, most U.S. assistance over the past nine years has paid for night-vision goggles, F-16 fighter jets, unmanned surveillance planes and other tools that help the army battle the Taliban, but has done little to convince Pakistanis that the United States cares about their well-being.

Still, the United States will have spent nearly $5 billion in civilian assistance by the end of the year, and that money is supposed to buy goodwill.

By almost all accounts, it hasn't. Although the United States has received praise here for its speedy response to the summer's catastrophic floods, Pakistanis remain suspicious of American motives. In the Pew poll, nearly six in 10 Pakistanis described the United States as an enemy; only one in 10 called it a partner.

Javed Ashraf Qazi, Pakistan's former education minister and onetime top spy, thinks he knows the reason.

When Qazi was appointed education minister in 2004 after retiring from the military, he expected that U.S. assistance would help him raise standards. There was much to do: Pakistan's public schools are in deplorable condition, with more than half lacking electricity and teachers earning as little as $50 a month.

But Qazi said he soon discovered that the United States did not even coordinate its programs with the education ministry. Most of the money seemed to go to U.S. consultants "who would carry out a study for something or other that we did not need."
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One program was geared toward "setting up democratic schools in Pakistan," he said. "I was very curious to know what the hell is a democratic school."

Another, he said, involved spending millions to send Pakistani teachers to Washington for months of training. Qazi wondered why the United States had not just paid for training in Pakistan, which could have had many times the impact.

Invited to Washington himself, Qazi said he finally lost his patience at a meeting in a State Department office once used by Gen. George C. Marshall, architect of Europe's reconstruction.

"I said, 'You do the opposite of what Marshall did. You don't ask us what we want to do. You tell us what you want to do,' " he said.


The complaint is a familiar one here. A program to train female health workers, for instance, was duplicating the work of a similar Pakistani government program. A recently announced plan to put solar panels on the roofs of the elite and private Beaconhouse school system, meanwhile, has been widely derided as out of touch when many public schools lack even roofs.

Pakistani analysts say a system that relies largely on Beltway contractors to devise the plans and get the work done has yielded few results. Wilson, the USAID director, said his agency is transitioning away from that system and toward the Pakistanis themselves.

But doing so poses its own set of challenges. Pakistan's government is rated among the most corrupt in the world, and the United States has a lengthy process for certifying the accountability of its partners. As a result, very little of the Kerry-Lugar money has hit the ground nearly a year after the bill's passage.

When it does, Pakistani development officials worry that it will be spent without regard for the results, or for the limitations in Pakistan's capacity to absorb the funds.

"When the money comes in, there's a lot of pressure to spend it," said Mehnaz Aziz, chief executive of the Children's Global Network, a nongovernmental organization that has had small contracts with USAID. "I would never want to be in a position to spend $100 million in Pakistan."

All that money does not necessarily mean high-profile projects. Because anything in Pakistan that's associated with America is vulnerable to attack, the United States has shied away from projects that could make for alluring targets.
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Qazi, the former education minister and spymaster, said the threat is overstated. He said that if the United States set up a technical training institute, no one would dare attack it. "Call it the American School of Technology. People are running to the U.S. for good technical education. So set it up over here," he said.

U.S. officials are not convinced. But they say the incoming money will have a tangible impact. Among the projects slated to begin is one in Tarbela, where American engineers worked decades ago with a consortium of international and Pakistani partners to build the dam.

For $16 million, USAID plans to upgrade the dam's turbines, which produce hydropower. The work is expected to significantly cut Pakistan's chronic energy deficit.

Word has begun to spread in Tarbela that the Americans are coming back, and former mayor Firdous Khan said he would welcome them.

He said he admired the American engineers who helped build the dam for their ability to get things done without delay, and without demanding a bribe.

But decades later, surveying his town's potholed streets, its archaic sewer system and its vast population of unemployed young men, Khan's mind turns to regret: "I just wish they had stayed."


Click to view image: 'e5446f4f3e4a-pakistan_aid.jpg'

Added: Sep-30-2010 
By: jumpingforJoy
In:
Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East
Tags: Billions, of, aid, dollars, buy, U.S., little, goodwill, in, Pakistan
Views: 14739 | Comments: 29 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 1 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • keep Amoney in America, spend it on our people!!!

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (6) | Report

  • Goddamn worthless Pakis. They've taken billions in aid and then aided the Taliban. Who, in turn, go ahead an launch attacks into Afghanistan.

    Then, they fire on US helos crossing the border and returning fire and then complain when the helos shoot back and kill their soldiers.

    What the hell to they think is going to happen?

    They've done nothing to alleviate rural poverty or eliminated feudalism in the countryside.

    Now, they've shut down our supply line to Afghanistan.

    One of these days More..

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (6) | Report

    • bring it on... i think you Americans deserve a Veitnam part 2. You havent seen nothing in Iraq or Afghanistan what you will experience in Pakistan if you dare attack us.

      Thats for your "attacking the pakis" part

      now let me tell you the realities on the ground.

      1. The money you give, only funds Puppet regimes and goes striaght to swiss banks without even entering the Pakistani borders.

      2. You gave Al-Qaida 6 billion dollors and helped them create groups that would fight inva More..

      Posted Oct-1-2010 By 

      (0) | Report

    • Evidently you can't stop the talibangs but you think you could stop Americas military? Keep deluding yourself. Iraq took a few weeks. Paki maybe a few months.

      Posted Oct-1-2010 By 

      (0) | Report

  • "Everyone here hates the American government," said Shah, a spirited 71-year-old with a stark white beard and a sharp tongue. "I haven't seen a penny of this U.S. assistance."

    Analysts say there are many reasons: poor coordination with the Pakistani government, a lack of understanding of Pakistan's needs and a reluctance to produce iconic projects, lest they become targets for terrorists."

    So pretty much translated it means that money for aid is filling up someone' More..

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (5) | Report

    • Thats no surprise, President "Mr 10 percent" Zardari still has 6.4 billion dollars in his pocket from the Kashmiri earthquake in 2005 that he has failed to distribute. His excuse was that "it was needed elsewhere". While he sits in his presidential palace in luxury, 2 miles down the road lay villages still in tatters that have never seen a penny. I've said it before and I'll say again, I would rather shit in my own hand than donate anything to Pakistan.

      Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

      (3) | Report

    • Give a man a fish and he`ll ALWAYS be back for more, basic greed will make sure the guys family (and of course himself) is fed first, teach a man to fish and he`ll do it himself and hopefully teach others, but always remember, if the man you are teaching how to fish doesnt have any comprehension of what is ahead of him, whats the point?.

      Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

      (2) | Report

    • EQUALS, business as usual. Too bad the cave dwellers STILL don't get it......

      Posted Oct-1-2010 By 

      (0) | Report

  • this is the problem with giving developing and 3rd world countries money. Its like giving an alcoholic money for food, but you know they're just going to spend it on booze.
    Instead of sending them money, we need to just send the resourses (Lumber, Food, Water, educational material, Ect.), that way they cant use it on shit they dont need.

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (4) | Report

  • Comment of user 'StopTheCancer' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • In related news the Pakistani News Tribune just released a new poll showing that only 48% of Pakistanis support homicide bombing of Pakistanis by Pakistanis in Pakistan. This is down from 51% just six months ago. The Prime Minister said this was great news and showed the world "we are making progress."

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (2) | Report

  • The obvious way to enable citizens of third world countries and their politicians to fully appreciate western aid is to pull it for a few years.

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Maybe someday The United States will fucking learn
    that it's better to just wipe these fuckers off of
    the map early on,then you don't have to fuck with
    them later.Cheers.

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (2) | Report

  • They act like The U.S. owes them the money! Doomed to fail is all I can think of.

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (2) | Report

    • @hughmac7 yes americans owes us money since its their war in afghansitan brought pakistan to its knees. We are buried under the debt to fight terrorism which resulted from american invasion of afghanistan and now for the first time in history we are using our soldiers to protect the western borders of pakistan. Its your fault and as respected people you have to pay for the damages as well which resulted from your actions.

      Posted Apr-26-2013 By 

      (0) | Report

  • Pakistan is our enemy, if those motherfuckers did not have nukes we would have kicked their asses, they supply the Taliban and they are pussys since all the northern region is owned by militants

    fuck the pakis

    Posted Oct-1-2010 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Hey Pakistan

    Go fuck yourself!!!

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (1) | Report

  • all aid should be linked to their nuclear arsenal, they should be made to sell their weapons in exchange for any help

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (1) | Report

  • Does ANYONE have the UNREDACTED Pakistani Execution Video that was shown/broke on CNN this afternoon? PLEASE if someone has it POST IT. Do a search for "Pakistan Execution Video" on Google and you'll see it at the TOP of the page but as of yet no FULL and UNREDACTED video yet. Shows about 7 blindfolded teenagers being shot with MACHINE GUN FIRE at close range by Pakistani Mil. Almost as incendeary as Koran burning video.

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (0) | Report

  • The only good will I care about is from those who are victims of terrorism/islam.

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (0) | Report

  • Buying goods while bombing their country isn't really helping.

    Posted Oct-1-2010 By 

    (0) | Report

    • THANK YOU VERY MUCH SIR. i think people need to understand that.

      Posted Oct-1-2010 By 

      (0) | Report

    • Understand what? Your people are being played by your leadership? Your government plays BOTH sides against it's citizens? Your people hate the west but embrace radical islamo-facist? The majority in your country practices a backward death cult? Your government has been "dragging" it's feet on this issue for DECADES? Your citizens don't appreciate the BILLIONS of dollars pumped into your country? Your government has NO intention nor ever did have any intention of fighting these scum? I More..

      Posted Oct-1-2010 By 

      (0) | Report

  • You can see the complaint, it falls in line with the Shock Doctrine, contracts going to US teaching companies rather than Pakistanis ones, Democractic schools etc. Using disaster/aid as a business venture...

    However you can bet if they feed it through the Pakistani agencies, the corruption will kick in.

    Posted Sep-30-2010 By 

    (-1) | Report

  • I have one of those chairs too!

    Posted Jun-13-2013 By 

    (0) | Report