Aid / 09.01.2008

By Samia Altaf A chat over tea at a government office in Islamabad reveals why billions in aid have done so little for Pakistan’s poor. Not enough nurses. Not enough jobs. Nurses working as “doctors.” Trained nurses being encouraged to leave the country. Untrained and uncertified “nurses” being recruited in sheer desperation by private hospitals. What a strange and paradoxical situation! Yet there is no discussion of these crucial issues. And new training programs are being developed, because there is pressure from international organizations to include more women, supposedly to meet the human resource ­shortage. My companion sat shaking her head. Mrs. S. was starting to look restless. She signaled to the attendant for tea. In a government office, a tea break can become a project unto ­itself. “The problem with women,” Mrs. S. volunteered conversationally, again adjusting the dupatta delicately on her hair as the tea service was laid out, “is...