The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has defended its programmes in Pakistan in a letter to the editor after the New York Times published an article questioning why the agency is walking away from legal process in Pakistan and highlighting its failure in making substantial contribution to the country.
The organisation which has been operating in Pakistan for nearly a decade, distributing billions of dollars, was criticised for having made “minimal impact on the ground”, according to the article. Further, critics accused the agency of taking up projects with little consideration for local concerns and being needlessly reliant on American contractors with “little development experience”.
Despite extensive criticism about its efficacy, some experts also acknowledged that the agency has been a victim of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.
Raza Rumi, a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, who has also worked in Pakistan’s development sector said: “I would not say it’s been a failure — they’ve invested money in energy and education — but because of anti-Americanism and their own inability to effectively communicate, this hasn’t been seen.”
“They’ve spent so much money in FATA,” he added, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. “The reality is no one actually knows the result.”
However, the agency argued that article on the United States development assistance to Pakistan should not ignore that USAID “has contributed to dramatic improvements in the quality of life for the citizens of Pakistan.”
In a letter penned to the editor, Larry Sampler, the assistant to the administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs, USAID, claimed the agency has improved the lives of millions of people in Pakistan whilst enhancing American national security. Further, he said USAID has helped “decrease newborn deaths by 23%” in areas in which it operated and “increased access to electricity for over 17 million Pakistanis” as well as improved the reading skills of 120,000 children, which “should make both Americans and Pakistanis proud”.