Trumps tweet results in sensible decision on US aid for Pakistan
|London: January 5, 2018. (PCP) The United States of America has suspended its military aid to Pakistan, based on poor administration, corruption and a perceived duplicity in regards to Pakistan's relationship with militant groups such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network
An announcement was made today that the US would suspend security assistance to Pakistan for failing to take decisive action against the taliban militants who are targeting US personnel in Afghanistan.
The suspension follows a tweet by President Donald Trump posted on January 1st 2018, in which he questioned the value of US investment into Pakistan for the purposes of making the middle-east region more stable. He wrote:
"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"
Although it is not immediately clear how much money and material is to be withheld the US statement exhibits a significant level of frustration with Pakistan's attitude towards upholding their end of their agreement with the US.
Spokeswoman for the United States Department of State Heather Nauert said the restrictions covered security assistance above and beyond the $US255 million (£166 million) for Pakistani purchases of American military equipment that the administration held up in August.
Ms Nauert said details were still being worked out on the additional funds, and referred questions to the Defence Department.
Earlier, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the policy on military aid was "still being formulated".
On the same day, the State Department accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom, adding the country to a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation.
The decision to restrict security assistance has raised concern about other types of aid that may be terminated for Pakistan.
USAID provided more than $46 million (£34m) in 2017 'to respond to the complex emergency in Pakistan. With USAID support, UN and non-governmental organization partners provided emergency food assistance, as well as agriculture, nutrition, protection, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene support, to conflict- and disaster-affected populations.'
On frequent occasions, Christian charities on the ground have reported that Muslim NGO' s working with USAID have refused aid to Christians after attempts to convert the beleaguered Christians through aid inducement failed.
In 2006, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) implemented a 9 million dollar contract through USAID to install a computerised electoral rolls system for the Pakistani government.
USAID, IFES, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) have also coordinated a number of initiatives to help train election officials in Pakistan. Part of this activity was the establishment of a Federal Election Academy and a library to support the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Despite the move to an electoral system and the enhanced training of election officials Pakistan's Electoral Commission has failed to address the low number of individuals registered to vote in the country, currently less than 50% of the nation's population are registered to vote, here is a statement taken from the National Database and Registration Authority, today:
"NADRA has supported the Election Commission of Pakistan in verifying the unique voters via National Citizen Database. All unverified voters are removed and they are not allowed to conduct a vote. Out of a number of 81 Million voters, 36 Million were verified. SMS based facility on 8300 is also activated for support of the voters. This SMS service provides details of the physical polling area for the specific vote, hence, educating and facilitating the nation to vote."
It is believed by Christian NGO's in Pakistan that the reported 1.6% of the population registered as Christian on Pakistan's Government website is incorrect and that figures should be at least double the amount. Moreover similar skewed figures for the Hindu demographic are believed to be a contrived mechanism to retain a low 5% quota for minority candidates given access to government employments positions, in a positive discrimination agreement reached as a consequence of western foreign aid. The fuging of numbers on the census exacerbates this situation even more as it means that less governemnt roles are provided than required, not that there is much merit in these government roles that are made available to religious minorities. The quota system is positive dicrimination at its worst covering only menial government employment roles in the roles of road sweepers, sewage workers and cleaners.
Failure to reach Christian communities by Election officers and reports of corrupt officials replacing the correct faith of illiterate Christians with an Islamic identity are some of the concerns raised by campaigners. Many Christians are also too frightened to place their faith on electoral sheets for fear of being targeted.
Further still, concerns about the ability for converts out of Islam to alter their religious status on identification documents underlines the ongoing prejudice in the country held by top level officials (click here). This also reinforces the complexity of concerns regarding an accurate measure of the number of Christians in Pakistan.
Pakistan has often been criticised for internal corruption which has been detrimental to the country’s economic, political and foreign aid standing. U.S. officials have previously castigated the significant consulting fees and administration overheads for administration of US Aid.
Concerns were also raised that officials were being paid bribes as a means to progress on projects in the region. This had led to US officials determining that channelling the aid through Pakistani agencies would lead to a more effective implementation of the foreign aid especially as Pakistani civilian bureaucracies did not have the capacity to be effective aid implementing partners.
Several reports from Pakistan also suggest that large amounts of foreign aid were being used to fund Pakistan's war against India. In total US officials believe that over 50% of aid provided to Pakistan had become ineffective.
In 2015, Pakistan was reportedly bucking the global trend with an increasing aid budget for Education at $649m (£479m). It was noted that some sub-Saharan countries that needed it more were receiving no aid. Britain was one of the largest funders with a £225m budget agreed for holistic educational reform despite a 2013 report by the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom highlighting serious concerns about Pakistan's national curriculum that demonized and caricatured minorities, even going as far as labelling Christians as spies for the west.
David Cameron, came close to accusing Pakistan of exporting terrorism during a conference in Bangalore, India in 2010 (click here). Shortly after his statement he made Pakistan the largest foreign aid recipient from Britain and agreed to place his trust in Pakistan Security forces, even though nearly half of the terrorist plots against Britain come from Pakistan's lawless north-west frontiers (click here).
Britain continues to maintain Pakistan as it's largest foreign aid recipient despite no attempts by the Pakistani Government to tax it's wealthy citizens, a caveat introduced by David Cameron as part of his 2011 package. In the Guardian newspaper PM David Cameron was quoted as saying that he could justify the move domestically only if the Pakistani elite paid more taxes. He also said that Pakistan suffered from "weaknesses in terms of government capacity and waste".
Only 1% of the Pakistani citizens pay tax of whom it is believed the majority are Christian sweepers and cleaners involved in the visible positive discrimination quota for government employment. In essence these Christians are paying an Islamic Jizya tax for their safety and protection.
Last year despite the reduction in care for elderly British citizens and a struggling NHS the British Government increased our foreign aid to Pakistan by £105m (click here). A move that seems ludicrous when reports of corruption with US Aid and our own continuining despite agreed tighter measures for accountability and traceability.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said: "BPCA has for many years called for better vetting of the use of British and other foreign aid budgets to Pakistan or their removal.
"We are supportive and strongly in favour of the Trump Administrations recent decision as Pakistan has shown few signs of any positive action towards limiting the Taliban or Haqqani network movement.
"Moreover, the assassination of Osma Bin Ladin through a covert US operation in 2011, whilst he was residing in a fortified building within a military cantonment only 100km from Pakistan's capital, raises serious concerns about their desire to take on the Taliban and suggests a more pernicious relationship.
"In recognising Pakistan on the US Special Watch List for religious violations, the Trump Administration have brought great relief to hundreds of Pakistani Christian NGO's who have been challenging for persecution to be recognised by western nations since its inception.
"I do not agree with everything that Donald Trump does but his recent tweet has finally caused the much-needed inspection of Pakistan's socio-political climate and poor Governance - for this he will be receiving my great thanks.
"Christians in Pakistan are caught in the bondage of slavery, many of their young women are raped and forced into Islamic marriage, they are bullied and murdered by fellow school children, they are burned alive in the streets, the majority serve as cleaners or sweepers or sewage workers and they are held hostage to bias laws such as the draconian blasphemy laws.
"If the US and Britain want to make the world a safer place, they should first help the Pakistan asylum seekers in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The accounts that those rescued would give to western agencies would enable them to understand the true extent of depravity in the self-styled nation of the pure.
"Any foreign aid investment in Pakistan should prioritize the improvement in quality of life for minorities and should not be handed across to a government clearly unable to keep their noses out of the trough.
"Moreover with growing evidence that Pakistan is for all intents and purposes a country that exports terrorism, sanctions should be considered to prevent the proliferation of insurgents within the country. This would include sanctions on military supplies as evidence exists of military equipment being delivered to insurgent groups
"Any security solution in the middle-east should not include Pakistan as a partner. If nothing else the recent riots in Pakistan that brought the country to a standstill illustrate the majority of citizens of the nation hold more extreme Islamic views then the people they are ostensibly being protected from.
"Pakistan continues to spend 3.6% of its national income on defence and has successfully launched a satellite into space, having earmarked a £19.5m budget every year for a space programme. Britain should now follow suit with the US and pull out of an expensive aid programme that has no palpable benefit."