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Policymakers view Pakistan as one of the most critical fronts in efforts to combat violent extremism. Different US administrations have taken divergent approaches on development assistance to the country. In 2010, a CGD study group drew lessons from past experiences to offer practical recommendations to US policymakers on the effective deployment of foreign assistance and other, non-aid instruments for achieving sustainable development in Pakistan. It suggested better ways to deploy aid, and ideas to unlock the potential of trade and private investment.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah stated that the United States will be working to significantly decrease the number of development projects it is currently supporting in Pakistan, from the current 140 to 35 by the end of September 2012. In Dr. Shah’s words, “If we [the U.S.] are trying to do 140 different things, we are unlikely to do things at scale in a way that an entire country of 185 million people can see and value and appreciate. We are just far more effective and we deliver much more value to American taxpayers when we concentrate and focus and deliver results.” Shah goes on to clarify that the United States will not be cutting back on the overall amount of assistance it provides: it plans to adhere to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman framework of $7.5 billion over 5 years.
I applaud Administrator Shah’s call for greater focus in the U.S. assistance portfolio and his explicit emphasis on “results.” After all, as my colleague Connie Veillette has pointed out, the Obama Administration’s Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on global development explicitly called for greater emphasis on “selectivity” and “results” in U.S. development assistance.
The debate over U.S. foreign assistance in Pakistan has grown hotter lately, with Stanford political scientist Stephen Krasner arguing in Foreign Affairs that the United States should get tough by threatening to halt aid to Pakistan to force the country into cooperating better on security matters. CGD president Nancy Birdsall responded with an article in Foreign Policy. Drawing on the recommendations of a 2011 CGD study group report, Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan, she argued that U.S. development assistance should be focused on helping to create a stable, prosperous Pakistan—goals that are in America’s own best interest and would be ill-served by trying to use the aid as a bargaining chip.
This post originally appeared on Foreign Policy's AFPAK page.
In the January/February 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, Stanford political scientist Stephen Krasner claims that "current U.S. policy toward Pakistan has failed" and recommends that the United States take a radically different approach: credibly threaten to sever all forms of cooperation, including all U.S. aid - military and civilian - to force Pakistan into cooperating with the United States on security matters. Center for Global Development President Nancy Birdsall responds.
Over on the Global Dashboard blog, Seth Kaplan has posted a critique of CGD’s Pakistan initiative. In a post titled, “What’s Wrong With CGD’s Pakistan Initiative” Kaplan knocks the CGD Pakistan initiative for saying “almost nothing specific about Pakistan”; “ignoring the “drivers of its political economy”; and relying on “one-size-fits-all solutions.” As members of CGD’s Pakistan initiative, we welcome Seth’s critique of our work (indeed, we were happy to feature another one of our critics in a previous blog) and take this as an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding about our approach and findings.
In the second open letter to Ambassador Holbrooke, Nancy Birdsall conveys recommendations from the second meeting of the CGD Study Group on U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan, focused on the policies and programs that would be most effective in dealing with the security and development challenges in the FATA region and vulnerable neighboring states.
Why? It’s National Database and Registration Authority—NADRA, the agency in charge of national identification—recently announced that it will begin issuing identity cards to orphans with unknown parentage; those without birth certificates or other documentation. This move effectively ensures citizenship rights for children who would otherwise have been excluded under regulations that require proof of nationality and parental lineage to obtain an ID card.
Lifting American trade barriers to Pakistani goods could serve as a useful tool of U.S. foreign policy. Unfortunately, recent proposals to extend duty-free market access for Pakistani exports are extremly limited due to concerns about job loss in the U.S. textile industry. However, this study shows that concerns are exaggerated and that market barriers for all Pakistani goods should be droped.