US-Pak Duo: The right to beg

This article was published in Express Tribune Blogs and can be seen here.
Sixty years have been passed, since U.S. and Pakistan are in liaison. These six decades have seen many ups and downs in this association. History witnessed pompous public welcomes of leaders of both countries at each other’s places and also watched hatred-filled rallies against each other. But this is also a fact that both countries have proved beneficial to each other throughout this period. Keeping conspiracy theories aside, U.S. has been investing much in the economic and educational development of Pakistan.

USAID is one of the investing U.S. body in Pakistan that spends millions of Dollars in the education sector of Pakistan. An example is the recent project launched on April 13th by USAID. This program will establish research and studies centers in the fields of agriculture, food security, water and energy in various universities throughout Pakistan. The program is an addition to the already present U.S. investments in Fullbright scholarship program, USAID merit and need based scholarship program and previous LUMS, IBA and QAU sponsorships over the last six decades. The aid will provide graduate and postgraduate scholarships at these centers along-with collaborative research and student teacher exchanges with U.S. universities.

In the signing ceremony of MoU between USAID and HEC there was a QA session between the participating university students and U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan – Cameron Munter. The questions asked by students revolved around the need for more U.S. funding to Pakistan. For example, a student asked him to increase scholarship slots and funding. Another student showed concern over the strict visa policies of U.S. for Pakistanis. In the 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 of U.S. and Pakistan many times with much emphasis. But, still this call has been neglected by the people of Pakistan. On one hand, we abhor U.S. and on the other hand, we are not only expecting benefits from the same country, which we despise religiously but do this more blatantly.
Many would think it as a justified plea but is it not a hypocritical and unrealistic dependency that U.S. herself is fed up of now? Especially, when we call ourselves a “Ghairatmand” nation? Although, it can be thought that it is our right to have this funding as a compensation to the losses and damage Pakistan has suffered on account of this partnership since Afghan War. But, is it also our right to beg? A serious rationale is required to be concluded by the people of Pakistan in this regard. It should be decided that to what extent do we need to be adverse to U.S. and its policies, to what extent should we allow U.S. intervention and to what extent do we need to be thankful to U.S. for her contribution in our development. This self-assessment will be a better option for the government and the people of Pakistan instead of bashing a country and also expecting help from it.
Enhancing the existing capacity and relying on that capacity is the only viable and sustainable development solution for Pakistan. This is a high time that the government and the people of Pakistan, in their individual as well as societal capacity, may start realizing the ground realities and stop relying on the foreign aids and IMF loans. Only then we will rightly deserve to be called a confident, strong and “ghairatmand” nation.

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