The A.P. Is Wrong: US Aid Hurts Pakistan’s Poor

Associated Press’s Sebastian Abbot criticized Pakistan’s Punjab province Wednesday 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 the last GOP 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 percentof 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. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered at least 45 deaths that were definitively civilians including 5 young children, tribal elders, local police, shop owners, and an engineering student.

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. Until Americans choose peace, trade, and friendship, they will live under constant threat of terrorism.