Media Examines Challenges Of Delivery, Strategic Impact, Branding Of U.S. Aid To Pakistan

PBS’ NewsHour reports on the difficulty of getting U.S. aid to Pakistani flood victims and the branding of USAID assistance.

“As waters recede in Northern Pakistan in the Swat Valley, the U.S. Army is flying helicopter missions to isolated areas, delivering food and supplies and evacuating residents. The danger here is palpable. … Aid workers and evacuees have to pass layers of Pakistani security checks to even get near the helicopters,” the NewsHour reports. The story includes interviews with U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Knightstep, William Berger of USAID, Faizal Khan, a farmer, and Asif Ullah Khan of the Lawari Humanitarian Organization, which helps distribute U.S. aid in the country.  

The report continues, “some humanitarian groups believe advertising their U.S. connections in areas where extremists are active will put them in harm’s way,” while Asif Ullah Khan said “[p]eople are thankful” for the aid. Berger said, “What we’re focused on is getting these people’s lives restored and doing development. I think, if we do that well, it will be appreciated” (Kaye, 10/12).

According to Reuters, 11 aid groups, “including CARE, Catholic Relief Services and World Vision, have sent a letter to American government aid officials asking them to reconsider their use of labels in order to protect aid workers from attacks by anti-Western militants.” InterAction, coalition of U.S.-based humanitarian organizations, “says the U.S. is pressuring aid groups to make American-funded relief projects visible in Pakistan.” The aid groups want USAID “to extend a branding waiver for flood-affected areas, like it has in Pakistan’s northwest, where militants are likely to attack anyone associated with the U.S.,” the news service writes (10/12).

NPR’s All Things Considered also examines U.S. aid to Pakistan through an interview with Alex Thier, USAID director for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “USAID supports Pakistan in two ways, particularly this year. Overall, the Congress has given us for the last year about $1.3 billion to support assistance and development in Pakistan. And that amount has been plussed-up some due to the flood. The U.S. has committed an additional $400 million in civilian assistance this year, because of the tragic floods that they’ve had,” Thier said. He also discusses the “practical” and “strategic” impacts U.S. aid has in Pakistan, saying “these assistance programs have brought us into a regular process of dialogue” (Kelly, 10/12).

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