Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Holbrooke Promises More Transparency, Accountability in USAid to Pakistan

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Photo by: U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC BY 2.0

U.S. assistance to Pakistan will be more transparent and accountable, the U.S. top envoy to Pakistan has asserted.*

Richard Holbrooke was responding to a letter by U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), where the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman expressed concern that the Pakistani government may not be capable enough to use the USD7.5 billion assistance properly.

In his letter dated June 14, Holbrooke informed Kerry that the government is leveraging U.S. assistance to support reforms that will encourage the Pakistani government to allocate more of its local funds for health, education and other key sectors.
The U.S. strategy for Pakistani aid allocation also includes support for structural reforms to boost investments in the country’s energy and education sectors, Holbrooke said. He added that his team is coordinating with the Asian Development Bank’s energy task force and the U.K.-Pakistan joint education task force on these initiatives.

The U.S. is slowly changing the way it does business in Pakistan in order to better integrate the priorities and plans of the Pakistani government, Holbrooke wrote in his letter. He noted that allocation of money and the identification of projects and partners have just began, and pledged to publish more information on U.S. aid to Pakistan on the websites of the U.S. embassy in the country and the U.S. Agency for International Development once plans become more concrete.

“We share your concerns of the risks for future funding should are assistance be diverted from its intended purpose,” Holbrooke wrote in response to several accountability concerns identified by Kerry.

Holbrooke confirmed that approximately 50 percent of U.S. funds in fiscal 2010 will be channeled through Pakistani federal and provincial agencies. In response to Kerry’s concern that such allocation opens up the potential for U.S. funding misuse, Holbrooke explained that the Obama administration has chosen institutions with track records of working with international organizations such as ADB and those with “strong accounting safeguards.”

On U.S. priorities in Pakistan for fiscal 2010 and beyond, Holbrooke said these would include better alignment of U.S. assistance with Pakistan’s priorities and push for internal reforms to improve Pakistan’s water supply and sanitation.

The special representative said on Kerry’s concern over U.S. development presence in Pakistan: “We share your concern that we strike the right balance between high visibility and overall impact for the Pakistani people.”

He went to describe plans to use some of U.S. funds for energy to partner with donors and the Pakistani government. The goal, according to Holbrooke, is a “larger, more significant and coordinate contribution to energy generation and distribution.”

article source: devex network

I our opinion, the best way to create transparency would be to empower media to play the role of the watch-dog on the development issues, including transactions, implementations and results to the grass root level. This will not only ensure good governance, but also a sense of ownership amongst the governments and the people in both the countries. Making the US and Pakistani citizens' truly know that the money is coming "From the American People" into the households of the People of Pakistan, helping them in education attainment, health and survival, economic opportunities and growth, democracy and political empowerment. Bridging the gap for energy requirements, understanding of the issues concerning water resources and Pakistan’s contribution in the war on terror with the US and allied forces for a better, prosperous and a stronger Pakistan for tomorrow on a more competitive global footing.

This can be achieved by building capacity of the media to report more accurately and with in-depth knowledge of the issues concerning Pakistan as a nation and a country and how it has been able to absorb the foreign assistance.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pakistan Development Issues - 4 June 2010

At least 70 people were killed following suicide attacks on two Pakistan mosques that belong to the Ahmadi community in Lahore. Gunmen armed with suicide vests, guns and grenades stormed the two mosques during prayer hour on May 28. The attacks prompted more than two hours of battles between the police and armed militants. At least 108 were wounded in the attacks and ensuing gun fight. The attacks were condemned by members of the international community, including Canada and the United Nations, whose human rights experts encouraged the government to take concrete steps to ensure the safety of Pakistan’s religious minorities. The official said there were early warning signs, including threats to the affected religious community, that were not properly heeded.

Meanwhile, at least 5 people were killed in a separate attack on a hospital in Lahore. Four gunmen stormed and opened fire on the Jinnah hospital.