KARACHI, Pakistan — Poverty has long been a pre-cursor to infiltration by terrorist groups as well as violence. Several of the world’s most dangerous countries are also the poorest. Pakistan is no exception. Recent reports cite that 60 percent of the population of Pakistan lives below the poverty line and Forbes lists Pakistan as the world’s fourth most dangerous country.
Development Aid is an effective measure of protecting the United States. Military leaders have supported development aid as a national security tool for quite some time. They recognize that poverty creates the conditions necessary for terrorism and violence. Secretaries of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, military generals and United States soldiers have all advocated for development aid as a tool to improve national security.
Many of these individuals, including General Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and over 50 three and four star generals, have all asked that the International Affairs Budget be increased as a method of protecting America. The Pentagon is well aware of this as well, listing development as one of their three D’s of defense. Recent attacks by Taliban forces in Pakistan reinforce this need for development. Karachi International Airport, home to Pakistani Central Bank and stock market, has been a recent target of militant forces.
Security forces were attacked at Karachi’s International Airport for the second time this Tuesday. Unlike the night-long attack on Sunday that killed 37 people, there were no casualties during this occurrence. The June 10 attack did, however, force the second-largest airport, Jinnah International, to shut down again for the second time in a two-day period.
The shooting by two attackers was quickly handled after they fired at a security post. Upon return fire, they retreated into a slum area, where they were chased by paramilitary troops. Within a few hours after the attack, the Taliban took responsibility calling it a response to an earlier airstrike in the northwestern mountains by the Pakistani Military that killed 25 militant fighters.
An Investigation of Tuesday’s attack resulted in the discovery of seven dead cargo workers left over from the original attack on Sunday. The bodies were located in a cold-storage container suggesting that they were attempting to hide from the shooting. These incidents could be prevented. Despite security measures, attacks continue to happen and people continue to die.
It is time to refocus the priority on development rather than more weapons. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” If violence continues to beget more violence, we should adjust our strategy, and development aid is one of the most effective ways to do so.