Earlier last year, Associated Press’s Sebastian Abbot criticized Pakistan’s Punjab province for rejecting U.S. foreign aid, writing that “an aid cut would be felt most acutely by the poor.”
But it’s not true. As Imran Khan, the head of Pakistan’s Movement for Justice, described to the UK Telegraph last month, “We need reforms but this aid stops any real reform. If any money goes to the Pakistan government, it will not reach the people who need it.” Rep. Ron Paul said it best in a recent GOP presidential debate: “Foreign aid takes money from poor people in rich countries and gives it to rich people in poor countries.”
Punjab’s rejection of aid demonstrates how hated U.S. involvement is to Pakistanis. Nearly 70 percent of Pakistanis now see America as an enemy. U.S. military has killed thousands of civilians since drone strikes began in 2004, and each time uses aid as a bribe to quiet official government criticism. Even after Punjab’s Assembly unanimously condemned further U.S. strikes earlier this year, they have continued unabated. This affront to justice is what drives further Pakistani militancy and toleration of the Taliban.
The Obama administration continues to deny that these attacks put any civilians in danger. Chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan has claimed that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death” in the last year, but it’s a lie. Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that since 2009:
between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.
Other casualties are invariably labeled “militants.” Without a trial, however, no one really knows. Many local Pakistanis disagree, which fuels more hatred against the U.S., which is what makes the continued bribes critical to American foreign policy in the Middle East. Without continued economic and military aid, the Pakistani government would reject this war against their own people and force America to choose to engage in open war with a nuclear power or get out.