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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.
Marc Grossman, a retired Ambassador and former Undersecretary of State, has courageously agreed to take up what the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel has called “the worst job in the world”—Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Grossman will be asked to fill the massive shoes of the late Richard Holbrooke, the public face of the Obama administration’s civilian strategy in those two critically important countries.
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.
Vice-President Joe Biden is way ahead of the U.S. foreign policy community on the basics of what the United States can do in Pakistan. Let’s review two things he said during his recent visit to Islamabad, speaking to reporters from the perspective of someone who, during his time in the Senate, helped develop and championed the 5-year, $7.5 billion aid package now called Kerry-Lugar-Berman. First:
“The one last misconception I'd like to address is there are those who point to America’s history in this region and claim that eventually we will abandon Pakistan . . .we have learned from the past that . . . the only productive way forward is a long-term enduring partnership.”
A new focus on measuring development results would have far-reaching benefits for U.S. development
strategy, for U.S. public diplomacy efforts, and for the strength of Pakistan’s democratic institutions.
In this essay, Nancy Birdsall and Wren Elhai suggest five possible indicators that illustrate the type of
measurable targets that could help the United State and Pakistan meet shared goals for effective and
This is a joint post with Wren Elhai and Molly Kinder and firstappeared on ForeignPolicy.com’s AfPak Channel blog. Read the report of the Study Group on U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan here. A response from Alexander Thier, head of USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs can be found here.
For nearly two years, the United States has been trying something completely new in Pakistan. In 2009, with President Obama’s backing, Congress passed a bold piece of legislation that committed the United States to support Pakistan’s people and its economy, as opposed to focusing almost exclusively on the country’s military. The United States would try to help Pakistanis consolidate the transition to democracy they won in 2008, and -- for the first time -- it seemed the United States would place an equal emphasis on long-term development and short-term stability in Pakistan.
So far, however, this new approach has not lived up to its potential. During a recent trip to Pakistan, we listened to dozens of Pakistanis in and out of government tell us of their frustrations with the U.S. aid program and American inaction on trade and investment policies (just look at the ongoing debate about lifting tariffs on the Pakistani textile trade with the United States) that would naturally complement aid. Over the past year, a study group of American and Pakistani experts convened by the Center for Global Development have gathered to figure out what’s amiss—and how to put it right. In a report released today, we sum up the problem this way: