By Anjum Altaf
I am happy to engage in a debate with the Center for Global Development on US aid to Pakistan. However, for me the issue is not aid to Pakistan or aid in general but the analytical validity of CGD’s recent reports. I argued that CGD’s 2011 report was advocacy, not analysis and based on a reading of a summary of the 2012 report I concluded it seemed no different.
CGD has responded to my criticism of the latter but has, in what I consider a handwaving style, ignored my central concern and resorted to diversionary arguments to mount a defense. Here, I aim to show why CGD’s case remains a weak one.
By Kabir Altaf
The incident last week at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in which NATO air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers has brought Pakistan-US relations to their lowest ebb since the OBL raid. The public reaction in both countries has revealed the extent of the mistrust between the supposed allies. The American public feels that since the US government gives Pakistan so much aid, it is ungrateful of the Pakistani government to block NATO's supplies or ask the US to vacate airbases in the country. Americans are also angered by reports of Pakistan's alleged double-dealing and at best grudging cooperation with Washington. The Pakistani public, on the other hand, is angered by what they see as violations of their country's sovereignty. They also feel that fighting "America's war" has caused a lot of blowback in their country, leading to the deaths of thousands of innocents at the hand of insurgents.
Reading the newspapers from both sides, one gets a sense of how different the narrative is in each country. The articles in The New York Times are accompanied by images of groups of bearded men burning the American flag or effigies of President Obama.
I am perplexed by the Us versus Them phenomenon. Try as I might, I have not been able to explain why it has such a powerful hold on so many of us.
Let me try and work through it once again using a thought experiment. I would like you to stay with me as I do and to give me your feedback at the end.
I imagine that I am invited to speak to a class of high school students in a city that I have never visited before.
I arrive at the school and walk through a corridor into the class. In front to me I find 60 students of both genders wearing the school uniform and no other marks of identification seated in random order.