Excerpt from op-ed by Samia Altaf and Anjum Altaf in Dawn
WE must state at the outset that we have been wary of, if not actually opposed to, the prospect of further economic assistance to Pakistan because of the callous misuse and abuse of aid that has marked the past across all elected and non-elected regimes.
We are convinced that such aid, driven by political imperatives and deliberately blind to the well-recognised holes in the system, has been a disservice to the Pakistani people by destroying all incentives for self-reliance, good governance and accountability to either the ultimate donors or recipients.
Even without the holes in the system the kind of aid flows being proposed are likely to prove problematic. Over half a century ago, Jane Jacobs, in a brilliant chapter (Gradual and Cataclysmic Money) in a brilliant book (The Death and Life of Great American Cities), showed convincingly how ‘cataclysmic’ money (money that arrives in huge amounts in short periods of time) is a surefire way of destroying all possibilities of improvement. What is needed, she argued, is ‘gradual’ money in the control of the residents themselves. While Jacobs was writing in the context of aid to impoverished communities within the US, she concluded with a remarkably prescient concern: “I hope we disburse foreign aid abroad more intelligently than we disburse it at home.”
Continue reading on Dawn.
For more on U.S. aid to Pakistan, see New Security Beat‘s coverage of the recent U.S.-Pakistani Strategic Dialogue.
Photo Credit: A U.S. Army Soldier with 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, hands out medical supplies to Pakistani refugees outside an International Committee of the Red Crescent aid station in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, October 23, 2009. Courtesy of flickr user isafmedia.