Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Setbacks Plague U.S. Aid to Pakistan

Wall Street Journal Asia by Tom Wright

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A massive U.S. aid program that has made Pakistan the world’s second-largest recipient of American economic and development assistance is facing serious challenges, people involved in the effort say.

The ambitious civilian-aid program is intended in part to bolster support for the U.S. in the volatile and strategically vital nation. But a host of problems on the ground are hampering the initiative.

A push to give more money directly to local organizations and the Pakistani government has been slowed by concerns about the capacity of local groups to properly handle the funds.

• Some international groups have balked at new requirements, such as prominently displaying U.S. government logos on food shipments, and have pulled out of U.S. government programs.

• Anti-American sentiment in the nation continues to flourish despite the uptick in spending, in part because of American drone attacks on tribal regions. A poll of Pakistanis in July by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that two-thirds of respondents considered the U.S. an enemy.

“Drone strikes cannot be justified because civilians are also killed in them, which further aggravates a tense situation,” said Bacha Khan, a refugee from Bajaur, a tribal region along the Afghan border where the Pakistani army is fighting Taliban militants.

Due to various problems, in the year ended Sept. 30, the U.S. spent only about two-thirds of the roughly $1.2 billion appropriated by Congress.

U.S. officials acknowledge difficulties distributing so much money, but say the shift in direction is needed. “Our goal here is to help the [Pakistani] government improve its capacity to deliver key public services,” says senior State Department official Robin Raphel, U.S. Coordinator for Economic and Development Assistance in Pakistan. “The object of the program is quality, not to push money out of the door.”  Please read the entire article here

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Pakistan, State Department, USAID | , , , , , | Leave a comment