Britain, US, others pledge billions to Pakistan

According to British conservative newspaper The Telegraph, the United Kingdom and the United States are leading a group of countries that have pledged $5 billion to Pakistan:

More than $5 billion (£3 billion) has already been pledged, $2.5 billion of which has been earmarked to help rebuild homes, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals decimated in the Pakistan Army's operation to break the Taliban's control over the the Swat valley....

Some parts of Pakistan, in its tribal areas along the Afghan border, have never been governed directly by the state. Only recently has Islamabad announced plans for direct policing, state courts and welfare services in the Taliban-dominated Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Friends of Democratic Pakistan, including ministers from Japan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, China, Australia and the European Union, met to agree funding and draft in experts to agree a series of projects to support reconstruction efforts and shore up the country's new democratic government. Gordon Brown and Barack Obama will co-chair the group's next meeting in New York next month where the scale of funding and support will be finalised....

In the Swat valley, an estimated 200,000 families were displaced by fierce fighting between the Pakistani army and Taliban militants. In Bajaur agency, 300,000 were forced to flee their homes after aerial assaults, while a new major military operation is planned to break Taliban control of Waziristan.

Britain is expected to take a lead role in creating an education task force to explore non-madrassah (religious) schools. It will also play a role in developing new public-rivate partnerships to accelerate new investment in services. “There’s a bit more openness [in Pakistan] now to discuss these things with friends, the new democratic government is opening up,” said a diplomat. 

Having read our Hamza Alavi, we know that the distribution of the money, who controls it, and how it alters political relations among the various classes in Pakistan are a key point in what political effects this money will have.  Having read our Ayesha Jalal, we note the irony of the original two external destructors of Pakistan - the UK and the US - now pledging money for reconstruction, even while one of them is currently actually bombing Pakistani territory.  Having read virtually any history of South Asia, we are dryly skeptical about the role of post-imperial Britain in facilitating 'education' in South Asia.

On our own, we wonder a) what impact this will have on the areas of Pakistan that are not really under centralised state control b) whether the hope we feel at this development is a wholly misplaced desire to believe in good intentions despite 60 years of evidence of most frequently negative external impact on Pakistan; and c) what the reaction of the military will be, what the actual relationship between the military and the civilian government is right now, and whether the cycle of military - civilian rule will finally be halted and the military will be forced to retract from politics and society in the long run.

One thing is for sure - the history, as usual, will be ignored or as mangled as the analogy between World War II and the American War on Stuff.

By: on 24 Aug 2009