A recent report, on the progress of a $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan suggests that aid has failed to achieve some of its primary goals. In the report, the USAID Inspector General states that some programs have “made little progress in achieving [their] main goal[s] of social and economic stabilization to counter the growing influence of extremist and terrorist groups”.
The report, released by USAID, the US State Department and Department of Defense, comes not long after questions have risen regarding Pakistani government’s willingness to deal with terrorists and insurgents. To add to matters, there was also the recent suspension of bilateral relations between the US and Pakistan following the detainment of Raymond Davis, who recently shot and killed two Pakistanis but is allegedly covered by diplomatic immunity. This incident is an accurate reflection the conflicted relationship between the US and Pakistan, and the difficulty of short term problems in the face of long term goals.
Key points arising from the report:
- Lack of results can be attributed to the lack of adequate numbers of staff and a “hostile environment” characterized by kidnappings and harassment of the implementing partner staff.
- The lack of progress could be in part attributed to “the mission’s inadequate monitoring and oversight”.
- The USAID Inspector General noted that investigations taking place into implementing organizations following “serious corporate misconduct, mismanagement, and a lack of internal controls”.
- The US Embassy in Islamabad has failed to develop a core set of illustrative indicators for development progress.
This lack of progress may cause problems in Pakistan where anti-American sentiment is strong and there is a suspicion of corruption in U.S. aid donations. The U.S. government has reportedly given $18 billion in aid packages to Pakistan since the September 11th terrorist attacks. However, it seems that in Pakistan there have been few tangible results. The Wall Street Journal also notes that aid flows to Pakistan have found it difficult to achieve the goal of improving America’s image to Pakistan’s citizens. It reports that veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke died in December after ordering an entire overhaul of the current system of aid distribution in Pakistan, with the intension of addressing what he perceived as the frustrating problem of a perception that refuses to change.
The $7.5 billion package, passed by Congress in late-2009, has attempted to take a new approach by routing money directly through Pakistani agencies and institutions, with the intention to create more visible results, such as roads, schools, electricity networks and health care. Unfortunately, this has not strengthened Pakistani institutions as it was intended, which seems largely attributable to what many scholars describe as the power of the military in government affairs, whereby the elected government itself has relatively little policy influence.
As only the first part of this 5 year plan has been implemented, the test of time will determine its over success or failure in the end. The report comes at an appropriate time for reform following the changes that will be made to aid through the QDDR. Perhaps Pakistan represents an opportunity for USAID to offer a clear illustration of the QDDR reforms.