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Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Pakistan Sucks," Says a NY Times Op-Ed and "It's all America's fault."

Yes, well, ignore billions of dollars of U.S. Aid humanitarian aid poured into the sink hole that is Pakistan and in the midst of a flood, blame the Americans for a failing state, and you have an NY Times op-ed piece by Ali Sethi "Pakistan, Drowning in Neglect":
“That is not advisable,” he said. There were soldiers on the highway, and they wouldn’t want to be on camera. What were soldiers doing on the highway?

The answer came in evasive, fragmented sentences: there was an airbase on the Sindhi side of the highway. This was where the military’s newest F-16 fighter jets were parked. But local residents believed that the base also housed the notorious American drones used to kill Islamist militants in the mountains. If true, this meant that the military was getting tens of millions of dollars a year in exchange, none of which trickled down to the local population.
***
But there is at least one other way of looking at the country revealed by this natural disaster. This is a place where peasants drown in rice fields they don’t own, where mud-and-brick villages are submerged to save slightly less expendable towns, and where dying villages stand next to airbases housing the most sophisticated fighter jets in the world. Such a country is owed more than just aid, it is owed nothing less than reparations from all those who preside over its soil.

This includes politicians and bureaucrats, who are already being brought to account by a rambunctious electronic media, but also an unaccountably powerful military and its constant American financiers, who together stand to lose the most when the next wave comes.
How much aid? How about $17 billion dollars from FY 2002 to FY2011.

President Obama authorized $7.9 billion in October 2009.

Was some of this money spent to further U.S. interests?

I sure as hell hope so.

We are, after all, a country and not a charity.

Even with that, which country has hundreds of members of its military engaged in difficult rescue missions? Who will match the following (as of 16 Aug - I'm sure the totals are higher now)?
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2010 – Four U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters arrived today and U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft began transporting international aid within Pakistan as part of the continued U.S. humanitarian assistance in support of flood relief from the monsoon floods.

The four helicopters are part of the contingent of 19 helicopters urgently ordered to Pakistan last week by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. They bring to 11 the total number of U.S. military aircraft in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, two Air Force C-130 aircraft from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan flew to the Pakistani air force base Chaklala in Rawalpindi this morning in response to a Pakistani government request to pick up and transport international relief supplies stored there for delivery to flood-stricken areas. These flights are scheduled to continue daily to assist with getting out urgently needed relief supplies. An estimated 52,000 pounds of relief supplies were delivered today to Sukkur for distribution by Pakistani government and military authorities.

To date, the United States has pledged to provide about $76 million in assistance to flood-affected populations in Pakistan. Support includes both financial assistance and the immediate provision of urgently needed supplies and services, drawing on unique U.S. capabilities and resources.

U.S. military helicopters have rescued 3,555 people and transported 436,340 pounds of emergency relief supplies in spite of bad weather. In addition, within 36 hours of the initial flooding on July 29, the United States began delivering thousands of packaged meals to Pakistan from U.S. stocks in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. In all, 436,944 meals that conform with Islamic law were provided to civilian and military officials in Pakistan for distribution to Pakistanis in need.

Two shipments of heavy-duty, waterproof plastic sheeting to be used in construction of temporary dry shelter arrived in Karachi over the past two days. The 770 rolls bring the number of sheeting materials rolls brought to Pakistan to 1,870, an amount expected to help in providing shelter for 112,000 people. Some 14,000 blankets were brought along with the sheeting last week.

“Our experience has shown that plastic sheeting is urgently needed for temporary shelters, and we know it is urgently needed in Sindh as the flood waters continue to move south,” said U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson. “It will be supplied along with locally purchased materials that can be easily moved when people are able to return home.”

The sheeting material will provide dry shelter for 46,800 people in Sindh province. The cargo is immediately being sent to a logistics hub in Sindh and will be distributed by local and international organizations.

Other U.S. contributions to date include:

-- A month’s emergency food rations to more than 307,000 people through a partnership with the World Food Program.

-- About $11.25 million for the United Nations Refugee Agency, $5 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross, $3 million to the World Health Organization and $4.1 million for Save the Children.

-- A total of 436,944 meals delivered to civilian and military officials in Pakistan within 36 hours of the initial flooding via U.S. Air Force airlift, a contribution of about $3.7 million.

-- Emergency relief items totaling about $4 million delivered to the National Disaster Management Authority. The items include: 18 Zodiac rescue boats, six water filtration units, 10 water storage bladders, 30 concrete-cutting saws and 12 pre-fabricated steel bridges. A 25-kilowatt generator was provided to the Frontier Scouts-KPk to support their flood relief efforts.
You want more? Go review this, which includes only the DoD involvement.

Let's turn the question back to the internal politics of Pakistan:
"Why did not Pakistan invest in more flood control instead of nuclear weapons?" After all, floods have happened for years:
Yet, little attention has been focused on why the flood and other natural hazards that have struck Pakistan have done so much damage. Pakistan has suffered from earthquakes, droughts and floods in recent years. In each case, the cost in terms of human life, suffering and material damage has been magnified by the country’s underdeveloped physical and social infrastructure. Previously, floods occurred in 1950, 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992 and 1993, washing away homes, crops, livestock, roads, schools and clinics. Mercifully, the extensive system of dams, embankments and canals—partly built with U.S. foreign assistance in the 1960s—has permitted some management of the downstream water flow, but this system was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the current flood.  (emphasis added)
I guess, though, to follow the popular phrase, "it would have been worse" without that aid from the 1960s. And, it also follows that if the Americans are willing to pay for flood control, that frees up Pakistani money for things like developing nuclear weapons technology.

Oh, wait, there was a disruption in aid to Pakistan?
But actual U.S. development assistance to Pakistan has been minimal since the large aid programs of the 1960s and early 1970s (the hey-day of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship). At that time, U.S. development assistance helped build roads, power stations and a vibrant agricultural economy. Since then, Pakistan has seen little cash for development projects from the United States.
Let's see, the liberal Brooking Institute couldn't bring itself to identify why the aid dropped, but I will (with the help of Wikipedia):
On the surface as well, Carter's diplomatic policies towards Pakistan in particular changed drastically. The administration had cut off financial aid to the country in early 1979 when religious fundamentalists, encouraged by the prevailing Islamist military dictatorship over Pakistan, burnt down a US Embassy based there. The international stake in Pakistan, however, had greatly increased with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The then-President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, was offered 400 million dollars to subsidize the anti-communist Mujahideen in Afghanistan by Carter. General Zia declined the offer as insufficient, famously declaring it to be "peanuts"; and the U.S. was forced to step up aid to Pakistan. (emphasis added)
Of course, there was that "Symington Amendment" thingie:
The Symington Amendment (to the aforementioned Foreign Assistance Act) prohibits delivering or receiving economic assistance and military aid unless the President certifies that Pakistan has not obtained any nuclear-enriched material. The Glenn Amendment requires the termination of U.S. government economic assistance and military transfers due to Pakistan's testing of a nuclear device in 1998 (this applies to India as well). It also prohibits U.S. support for non-Basic Human Needs lending at the International Financial Institutes. The Pressler Amendment calls for sanctions on government to government military sales and new economic assistance unless the President certifies that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear device.
The Symington Amendment was first activated against Pakistan in 1979 because of Pakistan's importation of equipment for the Kahuta uranium-enrichment facility, a facility which is not subject to IAEA safeguards. However, the Soviet invasion of Afghansitan in 1979 led to a shift in U.S. proliferation policies towards Pakistan, and in 1981 Congress waived the Symington Amendment, citing national security concerns.
Until 1990, the United States provided military aid to Pakistan to modernize its conventional defensive capability. During this period the U.S. allocated about 40% of its assistance package to non-reimbursable credits for military purchases, the third largest program behind Israel and Egypt. The remainder of the aid program was devoted to economic assistance.

Soon after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, in 1990 the Bush I Administration declined to make the certification that Pakistan does "not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed U.S. assistance program will significantly reduce the risk that Pakistan will possess a nuclear explosive device." As a result the Pressler Amendment went into effect against Pakistan, ending all government to government military sales to Pakistan.

Speaking of Pakistan's "friends," how about explaining The Pakistan Taliban has threatened to attack foreign aid workers hampering efforts to get relief to the eight million people affected by the flooding?

In the meantime, forgive my lack of sympathy for the picture painted by Ali Sethi. Some beds you make all on your own.

Pakistan flood map from ReliefWeb. Click on it to enlarge.

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