US-Pak: Ghairatmand Pakistan's right to beg

Although Pakistan has suffered on account of the ‘war on terror’, does that also give us the right to beg?

Akif Zeb May 15, 2012
Sixty years have passed since Pakistan and the US have been in collaboration. This relationship has seen many ups and downs. History has witnessed pompous public welcomings of leaders of both countries, the ‘mi casa es su casa’  (my home is your home) attitude, and also watched hatred-filled rallies against one another.

Despite the bipolar relationship, the fact is that this liaison has proven to be beneficial for both countries. Putting aside the rather tempting conspiracy theories, the US has been investing much in the economic and educational development of Pakistan.

USAID spends millions of dollars for education in Pakistan. The perfect example of these investments is the project launched in April that will establish research and study centers in the fields of agriculture, food security, water and energy in various universities throughout Pakistan.

This program is only an addition to the various scholarship-based programmes that the US has invested in which have successfully provided thousands of Pakistani’s with educational opportunities. Programmes like the Fulbright scholarship program, the USAID scholarships and sponsorships to Pakistan’s top universities, all exemplify the initiative taken by the US to cultivate education in Pakistan.

In the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between USAID and the HEC there was a question answer session between the participating university students and the US Ambassador to Pakistan - Cameron Munter.

The questions asked by students revolved around the need for more US funding to Pakistan. For example, a student asked him to increase scholarship slots and funding. Another student showed concern over the strict visa policies for Pakistanis.

In response, what Cameron insisted was not only eye-opening but also embarrassing.

He was of the view that instead of asking for the expansion of the programs, the people of Pakistan should model the structure and bring development in their own present capacity. This need has been addressed by officials and intellectuals from both countries many times, with plenty of emphasis. And yet, this call has been neglected by Pakistan.

On one hand, we abhor the US and on the other hand, we not only expect benefits from them, which we despise religiously, but do this more and more blatantly each time as if demanding a right that has been infringed.

A perfectly justified plea.

Is this not a hypocritical and unrealistic dependency on the US? To the point that even they seem fed up of supporting us so thanklessly! And then we call ourselves a ‘ghairatmand’ nation?

Although, some do see this aid as compensation for the losses Pakistan has suffered on account of the ‘war on terror’ partnership between the US and Pakistan, however, does that also give us the right to beg?

A serious notion we as Pakistani’s need to start considering is to what extent we are willing to allow US intervention, which areas interventions is permitted, which US policies we are against, what our religious sentiments towards them are and to what extent we should be thankful to them for the contributions made by the US towards our development.

A self-assessment will definitely prove to be a better option for both countries where the relationship is so delicate. Aimless bashing and rising expectations are both contradictory emotions that will not help manage the relationship which desperately requires some thought.

Following Cameron Munter’s advice may be the only viable and sustainable development solution for Pakistan. Building up on, an already existing, capacity and then relying on that capacity is a more fruitful and self sufficient option than ungratefully asking for more.

This is a time of self reflection. An exercise we should have done a long time ago, but the government and the people of Pakistan, in their individual as well as societal capacities, have to start realising ground realities and stop relying on foreign aid and IMF loans. Only then will we rightly deserve to be called a confident, strong, self sufficient and “ghairatmand” nation.

Follow Akif on Twitter @akifzeb
Akif Zeb The author is a social activist on online media as Akif Khan. A university faculty member, he does research in the fields of environmental nanotechnology and teaching. He has done his post-graduation (MPhil) from Quaid-i-Azam university in Chemistry.He tweets @akifzeb
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


AFPAK | 11 years ago | Reply Pakistan is like a beggar with attitude of ingratitude. Pakistan army gobbles almost all of the USA aid, grants and general public is left with a very small amount for development and other projects. In the last decades Pakistan has received more than $20 billion from USA but no one thought of constructing a single electric generating station. Most of Pakistanis feel happy when they hear Pakistan has 200 plus nuclear bombs and about always-successful ballistic missile tests on a monthly basis not thinking where does the money come from.
Ahmad Waqass Goraya | 11 years ago | Reply Good one. u missed some negative aspects of many aid programs. they intervene in our policy and get contracts as well. It is two sided.
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