ST. LOUIS – Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained following the demise of Osama Bin Laden and the accidental American airstrikes against Pakistani soldiers. Mutual mistrust fueled the tension. The United States decided to suspend USAID to Pakistan. Tension between the United States and Pakistan have now eased and USAID to Pakistan has resumed. Why spend billions of dollars in USAID on Pakistan after all that has happened?
The United States gives Pakistan USAID to help Pakistan become stable, secure and tolerant with a productive economy. USAID focuses on energy, economic growth, stabilization, education and health. Good governance and gender equality are the incorporated themes in each focus. Pakistan will be able to develop effective political and economic institutions. Such institutions are crucial to attain political and economic stability as well as security.
The Taliban has a strong presence in the Swat region of Pakistan. Mullah Fazlullah, the terrorist who shot Malala Yousafzai, has become the head of the Pakistani Taliban. The Taliban will become stronger if Pakistan weakens. Terrorism would spread across Pakistan and extremist groups would gain more control. Pakistan can sustain long-term development and become self-sufficient with the assistance of USAID. Terrorism will struggle to survive in a stable and well-secured Pakistan.
What specific ways does USAID strengthen Pakistan? USAID gives Pakistan the support it needs in solving its energy crisis. Energy production is increased, energy is used more efficiently and reform for an efficient power sector is encouraged. As of May 2013, the national power grid has over 900 megawatts, which can power two million households and businesses in Pakistan.
USAID improves economic growth in Pakistan. Programs are created to raise incomes and employment and foster competitive enterprises and regional trade. Business opportunities are made to be more satisfying and benefit women as well. Over 800,000 rural families in Pakistan have experienced income increases between October 2009 and May 2013.
USAID improves stabilization in Pakistan. Marginalized communities receive the economic and social support they need. The Government of Pakistan and local communities develop mutual trust. USAID provides the assistance needed to build large-scale infrastructure and make healthcare available to mothers and children. It also allows for more education opportunities and community development projects. USAID stabilizes communities so that terrorism and other acts of extremism cannot prosper.
Nearly 20 million school-age children in Pakistan have no access to basic education. USAID helps make quality basic education and higher education accessible in Pakistan. Scholarship programs are also available for opportunities to study at both Pakistani and American universities. Assistance given to higher education institutions provides students with greater employment prospects and research opportunities related to national needs.
Pakistan lacks in quality health care. New mothers and children under five are especially in need. USAID remedies this problem by collaborating with the public and private sector institutions and civil society organizations. Their efforts make basic health care services better, create service delivery networks, and encourage healthy behaviors. Health care is improved to protect the health of mothers and children, make family planning accessible and reinforce provincial health care systems.
The main goal of USAID is to promote public-sector accountability and transparency, allow citizens to work in partnership with the government and empower women. Pakistan and the United States both benefit greatly from the efforts made by USAID. The United States protects its national interests and security through USAID. Pakistan would be engulfed in poverty and terrorism if it were to become a failed state. USAID keeps that from happening and makes it a future improbability.
– Brittany Mannings