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A New Kind of Aid for Pakistan

The white paper detailing the new U.S. strategy on Pakistan and Afghanistan calls for increasing and broadening development and economic assistance to Pakistan. It echoes recent recommendations by both U.S. and Pakistani policymakers who have argued against too much emphasis on military assistance, the Bush administration's focus. Nonmilitary aid is now seen as an important tool in achieving the core U.S. objective in the region--eliminating terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and preventing them from returning. President Barack Obama called upon Congress to pass pending bills that would authorize $7.5 billion in nonmilitary aid to Pakistan for the next five years and create "reconstruction opportunity zones" to enhance regional trade and foreign investment. But security threats to U.S. personnel, lack of oversight, a weak Pakistani leadership, and mistrust between Islamabad and Washington continue to pose serious hurdles.

From CFR Experts:
"USAID should begin a process of transitioning from the use of 'implementing partners' (contractors and grantees) to direct-hire officers in order to manage programs, build USAID's institutional memory and expertise, and demonstrate staying power to Pakistani partners. If necessary, Congress should pass legislation to facilitate these changes, specific to the Pakistan-Afghanistan context."

Of the total $12.3 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2002, less than 27 percent went toward development and economic assistance. Meanwhile, growing extremist violence and lack of access to insurgent areas has severely constrained international aid officials as well as their Pakistani counterparts. Anger over suspected U.S. unmanned drone attacks has led militants to kill and abduct (CSMonitor) foreign aid officials in Pakistan's northwest and Balochistan Province. Experts also say the United States lacks the institutional capacity to implement sophisticated, targeted development programs in Pakistan. CFR's Daniel Markey writes...

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