Earthquake Aid Earned Pakistanis' Trust, Study Finds

Victims of the October earthquake in Thori camp in Pakistan. Foreign aid that arrive in Pakistan following the Kashmir earthquake helped gain the survivors' trust in the West, according to a World Bank study. Photo by: Mark Garten

Foreign aid that poured into Pakistan in the aftermath of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake helped to increase survivors’ trust in the West, particularly the U.S. and countries in Europe, according to a new study funded by the World Bank and its partners.

The findings show that trust for foreigners was highest among people who lived on or near the fault line, The Washington Post reports. One explanation for this, says Tahir Andrabi, co-author of the study, could be the severity of destruction near the fault line and the resulting infusion of more international aid money in the area.

“More than 60 percent of people living on or very close to the fault line said they trusted foreigners - specifically European and Americans - compared with just over 20 percent who lived 40 miles (60 kilometers) away,” the Post says.

The newspaper, however, notes that the study did not measure whether Pakistanis in general saw the U.S. in a more positive light after the earthquake. It says opinion polls conducted after the earthquake showed that approval for the U.S. went up slightly but dropped again months later.

“According to the latest Pew Research Center poll, nearly six in 10 Pakistanis described the U.S. as an enemy and only one in 10 called it a partner. Those figures give an idea of the scale of the problem facing Washington as it seeks to convince Pakistan it is on its side,” the Post says.

As the U.S. once again leads the international response to the Pakistani flooding, the debate on whether aid could win Pakistanis’ trust for the U.S. has resurfaced. As Devex reported, there is at least one expert who said it would not.

“There may well be cases in which U.S. disaster aid could be used to promote security objectives, but we don’t know enough to say that it will now in Pakistan. And if ever there was a time for U.S. aid to demonstrate that it is not always and everywhere only about U.S. strategic interests, this would be a good time,”  Laura Freschi argued.

Andrew Wilder, who heads the Pakistan and Afghanistan programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, is also skeptical.

“The United States has given a lot of aid to Pakistan over the years, but there seems to be no correlation between the amounts of aid given and the perception of America,” he said as quoted by the Post. “I’d like to see the U.S. contributing more, but we should not be doing it on the basis of the assumption that Pakistanis will like us more. The risks are we will be disappointed.”

Continuous flood relief

Meanwhile, humanitarian aid continues to find its way to the flood-ravaged Asian country.

China will provide an additional USD29.4 million to Pakistan on top of the 120 million yuan (USD17.6 million) worth of humanitarian aid it provided over the last few weeks, Hindustan Times reports.

The Asian Development Bank, for its part, outlined plans to redirect funds allocated for projects and programs in Pakistan to flood relief and rehabilitation activities. ADB has submitted to the Pakistani government a list of underperforming projects that it is planning to cut, the Tribune Express reports. The approximately USD1.5 billion budget for these projects will be used to launch rehabilitation initiatives in flood-affected regions.

ADB has earlier offered a USD2 billion loan to finance reconstruction in the country. The bank is currently conducting a damage and needs assessment with the World Bank.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.