As much as 50 per cent of the estimated $1 billion in US assistance was given directly to the government of Pakistan last year, Deputy Director for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) David McCloud said in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune.
The Kerry-Lugar-Berman (KLB) bill is meant to provide Pakistan with $7.5 billion in US economic assistance. Since the furor over certain security-related clauses in the KLB bill that were seen as an “attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty”, many have been curious and critical of USAID’s programmes in Pakistan.
When questioned on the perceived delays of USAID programmes in Pakistan, McCloud called delays a relative term, but added that the reason many in Pakistan felt strongly about this is because the KLB legislation was passed, two years ago, in September 2009.
However, USAID received funding only ten months or so ago from this assistance package. In spite of this, said McCloud, USAID worked to quickly fund programmes such as the Gomal Zam and Satpara dams that were near completion and required resources, providing assistance to the Government to finish them.
“We were able to add 35megawatts to the national grid,” he added. McCloud also said that USAID was working on an irrigation scheme of 200,000 acres of land and providing water supply as well.
Considering the lack of public information available about how USAID and the government of Pakistan decide on projects, much curiosity surrounds the subject.
McCloud elaborated, “We recently had a strategy session with the Pakistani representatives and civil leaders, and we’ve decided on our priorities. We’ll be funding programs in the areas of energy, economic development and agriculture, stabilization works in border areas, education and health.”
On being asked whether it was easy to work with the government of Pakistan, the USAID aid representative replied, “our jobs are somewhat complicated by the various interests we have to meet and we have to kind of adjust how we do things. These are interests on both the US side and the Pakistan side.
We always have a complex relationship with any government when it comes to development planning and allocation of resources, and here we’re talking about a significant amount of resources.” McCloud, however, said that they had found sincerity, technical capability and political interest on the Pakistani side for the USAID to carry out its programs.
David McCloud has been working as a career USAID Senior Foreign Service Officer since 1988. He is currently the Deputy Director and the Deputy Assistant to the Administrator for USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.
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