The ongoing debate over the future of U.S. assistance to Pakistan is a good opportunity for the U.S. Congress to determine how it can use aid to encourage reforms in the Asian country, a U.S.-based expert on Pakistan says.
A significant change in the U.S.’s aid policy for Pakistan is unlikely, given how the Obama administration and key legislators from both U.S. political parties are cautioning against the consequences of completely cutting off aid to the Asian country, Huma Yusuf of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says in in an opinion piece published in the Pakistan-based Dawn.
But the U.S. Congress could use the debate to clarify why the U.S. needs to continue providing aid to Pakistan and how this aid can be best used to encourage the Asian country to adopt reforms, he says.
The U.S. Congress should frame aid as an investment in the Asian country’s people and society, instead of positioning it alongside U.S. national interests, Yusuf argues.
He explains: “By emphasizing that aid is in the [Pakistani] public interest, the U.S. can spur a culture of accountability to the Pakistani public, within and beyond Pakistan itself.”
Conversely, positioning aid as necessary to U.S. national interests, particularly in gaining Pakistan’s support for its counterinsurgency efforts, could only fuel Pakistani officials’ belief that the international community will not abandon the country despite its mistakes, Yusuf says.
“The continuation of aid in this context is counterproductive, perpetuating the false assumption that the US is too dependent on Pakistan, and that others will passively endure repeated provocations,” he explains.
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