$4b in aid to Pakistan called ineffective
Report asserts agencies fail on accountability
ISLAMABAD — The United States has failed to show progress from billions of dollars in aid given to Pakistan over the past few years to help the country with basic needs like electricity, health care, and education, said an inspector general’s report.
The finding comes as some in the United States have questioned the wisdom of lavishing Pakistan with military and civilian aid given the government’s reluctance to target Islamist militants based on its territory who regularly attack American troops in Afghanistan.
The United States has committed nearly $4 billion to projects in Pakistan since 2009 to help the country address critical infrastructure needs, provide basic services, and improve government performance, said the report released Monday.
But the largest contributor, the US Agency for International Development, has not committed to a way to measure the success of its programs, said the report, which was written by officials at USAID, the State Department, and the Defense Department.
“We believe that USAID has an imperative to accumulate, analyze, and report information on the results achieved under its programs,’’ said the report, which covered the period through Dec. 31, and came about a year after the State Department, which guides USAID, developed a strategy for providing civilian assistance to Pakistan.
“One year after the launch of the civilian assistance strategy in Pakistan, USAID has not been able to demonstrate measurable progress,’’ it said.
The US Embassy in Islamabad has also failed to come up with a core set of indicators to measure the success of all American development programs in Pakistan run by USAID, the State Department, and the Defense Department, said the report.
Failure to show progress could cause problems within Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment is high and many suspect US aid of lining the pockets of corrupt politicians rather than helping the poor.
Many of Pakistan’s 180 million residents lack access to clean water and effective health care and education.
The country also has chronic power shortages that can last up to 18 hours a day.
One of the reasons the United States has struggled is that the embassy in Islamabad has had difficulty staffing the positions it needs to monitor and run its programs, the report said.
The USAID office at the embassy remained understaffed by more than 20 percent, or 68 positions, as of the end of 2010, it said.
A driving force behind a recent expansion in aid to Pakistan has been Senator John F. Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who co-wrote a 2009 act that tripled nonmilitary aid to Pakistan.
A spokesman for the Massachusetts Democrat said money from that aid package has only recently been flowing to the country and last summer’s floods hindered distribution.
The act “was drafted, in large measure, specifically to address the shortcoming identified in the report,’’ said spokesman Frederick Jones.
One of USAID’s main efforts in Pakistan has been to foster development in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border, where poverty and neglect by the central government have contributed to the rise of Islamist militants. But the initiative has been plagued with problems.
The office of the USAID inspector general conducted audits of two livelihood programs in Pakistan’s tribal area during the last quarter of 2010 aimed at fostering economic development to counter the rise of extremism.