Holbrooke says US Aid through Governments with focus on Energy and Water Development in Pakistan
Reported By: Khalid Hashmani
Speaking early this month at the Brookings Institution to a large group of US policy advisors, Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan implied that the US Government implied a policy change on how US Aid would be channeled to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
For several months since the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 (popularly known as Kerry-Lugar Bill) was first tabled, the US Government has been talked about channeling much of US Aid to Pakistan through NGOs including US-based Pakistani organizations. However, Holbrooke’s on January 7, 2010 at the Brookings Institution indicated that much of the US Aid will through governments. He said “Until Obama took power, only 10% of US Aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan went through governments as such we were undermining the same governments that we wanted to strengthen”.
Before starting his address, he introduced the following key members of his staff for those who were interested to contact his office:
Ronan Farrow – Holbrooke’s NGO Contact person
Ashley Bonner – Communications and Counterpropaganda
Vali Nasser – working on Pakistan
Ken McLure – State Department Liaison
He also mentioned about the key role that recently appointed USAID administrator 36-year old Rajiv Shah will play to oversee infrastructure development and to “make sure that money is not wasted or go to people’s pockets.”
Holbrooke emphasized three (3) target areas – Energy, Water, and Education) areas for development in Pakistan. Talking about the energy crisis he said that it is pity that “Karachi, the world’s largest Muslim city with 18 million people had about four hour’s of electricity a day during the worst summer months and we want to do things to address this issue.”
In answering a question about indexes that showed declining support of US war efforts in Pakistan, he said “Let us not confuse on numbers of cell phones, certain attitudes – these do not tell how the actual war is going on.”
The following Question-Answer exchange on Pakistan related matters is reproduced below from the official transcript issued by Brookings Institution:-
QUESTION from Bob Dreyfus (The Nation Magazine) – Isn’t true that the Pakistani military and ISI is still to this day giving significant support to the very enemies we are fighting – Taliban, Hakmatyar, and Hakani. who make it very difficult that supplies reach to US foces.
ANSWER: It is true that 50% of supplies to US forces travel through Pakistan. It is one of the longest routes ever to get supplies to US forces in the history. But, we are diversifying.
Replying to a question on delivering of programs through NGOs — Washington Post article in mid November by Glen Hubbard (Dean of Columbia’s Business school reflecting Business reflecting education aid to Pakistan:
Hollbrooke replied – I always get harsh criticism on how US is investing in education in Pakistan . Pakistanis feel that they were not consulted at higher education or secondary education levels – We know that our support in education is not very visible. The emphasis of improving education in Pakistan is very high on our list.