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State-Building and Human Rights in Afghanistan & Pakistan

Af-Pak Forum, Active Topic

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The purpose of the Af-Pak Forum is to promote substantive discussion on Afghanistan & Pakistan through analysis of the ongoing public discourse within the foreign policy community. This Forum will feature publications selected and reviewed by our Af-Pak Fellows. Such reviews reflect the viewpoints of their authors only. The inclusion of any article in this Forum is not an endorsement of the article's content, but rather aims to highlight issues in need of greater conversation and debate. We encourage all those affiliated with the program to participate in this dialogue using the comment facility below.
Go to The Far East Economic Review

In Pakistan, Money for Nothing
By Mosharraf Zaidi
In the face of the Taliban onslaught, Pakistan's key foreign-policy instrument has become the repetition ad nauseam of the "Pakistan needs the world's support" mantra. When the Pakistan's Peoples Party government officials play this song, they aren't asking for prayers, a warm embrace or a knowing nod of support. They are asking for money. There is of course nothing novel about politicians asking for cash.

At a meeting in Tokyo on April 17, the world—in the shape of the Friends of Pakistan forum—responded to Pakistan's calls for support with pledges of over $5.28 billion. Foreign governments that have stepped up to the plate are wondering though, just what the impact of their benevolence will be. How effective...

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Go to The Foreign Policy

Money Can't Buy America Love
by Andrew Wilder and Stuart Gordon
While the debate over a troop surge in Afghanistan rages on, there has been virtual silence on the effectiveness of another central component of the U.S.-led strategy in Afghanistan: the surge of money intended to win Afghan hearts and minds. The figures are astounding: Next year, Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds, the monies available to the military to support projects intended to "win hearts and minds," are projected to nearly double to $1.2 billion. This far exceeds the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) global education budget of approximately $800 million. Even more startling, our research finds that such aid might be hurting -- or at best, not helping -- U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan.

Signs of just how important a weapon aid money is for the military are cropping up left and right, most prominently in the last tenet of the counterinsurgency mantra -- "shape, clear, hold, and build." An April 2009 U.S. Army handbook, Commander's Guide to Money as a Weapons System, provides operational guidance to military officers in war zones like Afghanistan to use money "to win the hearts and minds of the indigenous population to facilitate defeating the insurgents." The idea is to...

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Response by:
Nigel Pont, Carr Center Fellow:

These two articles, the first by Andrew Wilder and the second by Mosharraf Zaidi, raise similar issues that need greater consideration in policy making for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Wilder and Zaidi maintain that poverty alone does not drive terrorism and extremism. While critics would argue that poverty does contribute to these ills, and that in the long run, extremism will diminish as a rising economic tide raises all boats, the authors make a strong case for not relying on development to improve security and stability. In the absence of evidence that development contributes to short term security improvements, Wilder goes on to emphasize the need for development to be done for development's sake. These articles challenge some of the fundamentals underlying current US strategy and the ever closer alignment of USAID with security objectives. Given how the ‘aid creates stability’ paradigm underpins much of the US strategy in the region, shouldn't there be more evidence of the connection between the two? I would like to see policy makers asking USAID and the military for the evidence.

The real solution to the serious problems in both countries is political and needs strong political will (domestic and international) and political solutions. The populations of both countries have the right to improved development assistance, but the argument that it will substantially contribute towards resolving the current crises is drawn from a weak evidence base. Moreover, development assistance (and other foreign money flowing into both countries) may be contributing to instability, creating incentives for perpetuation of the status-quo and drawing attention away from the real solutions to these problems.

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