Washington: US efforts to help
Pakistani flood victims will give America`s image there a
boost, but not much of one.
The US reputation in a country the Obama
administration sees as crucial to defeating the Taliban and
al-Qaeda already is so tarnished that even millions of dollars
from Washington and the work of US soldiers and diplomats
probably will do little to change the thinking of most
After all, US flood aid is a small portion of the
billions of American dollars that have been shipped to
Pakistan since the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks against the
All that money, apparently, has done little to
impress. A recent Pew Foundation poll found nearly six in 10
Pakistanis viewed the United States as an enemy; only one in
10 called it a partner.
Still, the Obama administration does not have the
option of doing nothing.
The US interest in helping goes beyond easing the
suffering of the more than 17 million people affected by the
floods. Washington also wants Pakistan`s weak civilian
government to succeed so that it does not lose ground to the
aid work of Muslim charity groups associated with militants.
Making sure the pro-US government looks good, or at
least competent, is important to the Obama administration as
it encourages Pakistan in its fight against militants
operating along the border with Afghanistan, where the United
States is fighting a 9-year-old war.
Rajiv Shah, administrator of the US Agency for
International Development, said yesterday during a visit to
Pakistan that the country will have to demonstrate it can
spend relief funds transparently and well if it wants more
help in rebuilding.
The Pakistan government says about USD 800 million
in international emergency aid has been committed or pledged
so far. But there are worries internationally about how the
money will be spent by the government, which has a reputation
for inefficiency and corruption.