SEATTLE — Shortly after Pakistan’s creation in 1947, the United States began providing the developing country with military aid and economic assistance. Between 1951 and 2011, the U.S. earmarked nearly $67 billion in foreign and humanitarian aid to Pakistan.
Last year, Pakistan achieved a 5.3 percent economic growth rate, the highest in a decade. The gross domestic product, which is the sum of all goods and services produced in a country, was projected to grow at a rate of 5.28 percent during fiscal year 2016-17.
The U.S. Congress passed the Enhanced Partnership for Pakistan Act (known locally as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill or KLB) in 2009 to address Pakistan’s security and development needs on separate levels. However, according to a report by Congressional Research Service, the final appropriation for U.S. economic-related aid to Pakistan in KLB’s five-year authorization met or exceeded the annual $1.5 billion authorization only once in the bill’s first four years.
The economy of Pakistan is heavily dependent on foreign aid for economic and social development. As an example, the higher education sector in Pakistan is primarily sustained by the G7 countries which include (in order of the highest amount of aid provided) Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Italy and Canada. Sizable foreign aid by these countries has been used to sponsor scholarships, initiate academic seminars and develop universities and other institutions.
In its Doing Business 2017 report, the World Bank recognized Pakistan as one of the top 10 economies with significant improvements in its business regulations and the only South Asian economy that improved its position.
The U.N. Development Programme’s Pakistan office has been coordinating the international community’s aid efforts together with the government in Pakistan. This has included working on the accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a list of initiatives “to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” The U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been recognized to be instrumental in solving three of Pakistan’s central challenges: democracy, development and defense.
Furthermore, the SDGs have also provided the best avenue for Pakistani policymakers to engage the private sector and the civil society to lift more than 50 million people who live on less than $2 a day out of poverty. This agenda has also provided a comprehensive blueprint and integrative approach in reinforcing national development policies and accelerating developmental projects in Pakistan.
Humanitarian aid to Pakistan has also gone towards food in emergencies. Poverty has been responsible for breeding malnutrition and undernutrition in Pakistani children and stunting their growth, with every nine out of 20 children stunted. Because the youngest generation of any country is responsible for the future growth of that country, it is vital that humanitarian aid in Pakistan continues to be allocated in times of crisis and to alleviate hunger and poverty. Otherwise, cognitive disabilities in youth foreshadow a poor economic outlook for Pakistan’s prosperity and future.
Though Pakistan has been ranked among the top five countries affected by terrorism in the Global Terrorism Index, aid to Pakistan in the form of foreign assistance has been used to promote peace. This foreign assistance has often seen fluctuations in light of geopolitical turmoil in the country and an often strained and sometimes tense relationship with the United States over sympathizing with, funding and sheltering militant groups in the country.
Pakistan continues to face many internal threats from extremist groups and organizations. The challenges in the country range from a high prevalence of infectious diseases to a continuous decline in humanitarian aid to Pakistan to challenges in democratic participation, anti-corruption efforts and protection of human rights.
In this vibrant country, the best way to win the hearts and minds of Pakistanis and promote everlasting peace is by promoting their welfare. Foreign, economic and humanitarian aid to Pakistan will strengthen the pillars of democracy and address both the U.S. and Pakistani concerns and objectives in the best way to move forward without heavily relying on purely militaristic dominance that has often characterized the unstable relationship between the two bashful allies.
– Mohammed Khalid