US wants more aid recognition in Pakistan

Washington is making a new push to get international aid groups it funds to advertise the fact.

Last Updated: Sep 26, 2010, 21:44 PM IST

Islamabad: Concerned that US help to
Pakistan is not getting enough recognition, Washington is
making a new push to get international aid groups it funds to
advertise the fact. But it is meeting resistance from partners
worried US branding could prompt Taliban attacks.

The conflict highlights a major challenge for the
US as it tries to win hearts and minds in Pakistan, a key ally
in the war in neighboring Afghanistan and a deep well of
anti-American sentiment.

The US has earmarked USD 7.5 billion in aid over
the next five years, but it will do little to sway public
opinion if Pakistanis don`t know where the money is coming
from.

The issue has taken on new urgency in recent weeks
as the US has donated nearly USD 350 million to help Pakistan
cope with this summer`s devastating floods.

US officials have said they are only focused on
saving lives, but the country`s special envoy to Pakistan,
Richard Holbrooke, repeatedly expressed concern last week that
the US wasn`t getting enough credit for its assistance.

"So much American aid goes through NGOs and the
international community ... that people may be less aware of
the American aid than they ought to be," said Holbrooke after
visiting a relief camp for flood victims in southern Sindh
province.

Many groups that turn US dollars into the food,
water and shelter Pakistanis desperately need are reluctant to
use American logos on items they distribute because they fear
they may be targeted by Islamist militant groups.

The Pakistani Taliban killed five UN staffers in a
suicide attack last October at the office of the World Food
Program in Islamabad. In March, militants attacked World
Vision, a US-based Christian aid group helping survivors from
the 2005 earthquake in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province,
killing six Pakistani employees.

PTI