Another terrible report by Emily Wax
It is one thing to say that “Pakistan is pouring $300 million into Afghanistan”. It is entirely another to say that “Pakistan is pouring $300 million of its own money“. It is absurd to talk about Pakistan’s own money when it is bankrolled by the United States and the international community. Even if it’s elite didn’t stow away their cash in Dubai, London and other places, and actually paid their taxes and power bills, it is absurd to talk about $300 million of Pakistan’s own money as long as it is receiving that much or more in foreign aid.
Money is fungible. So the $300 million is quite likely to be some poor American taxpayers’ hard-earned money used to paint a few buses in the colours of the Pakistani flag. Not all of it, mind you, and quite possibly not even the majority of it, unless you happen to believe—like Barack Obama—that there is no corruption east of the Durand line.
Yet the sheer folly of the use of the phrase “Pakistan’s own money” is relatively mild compared to the overall message today’s report in the Washington Post seeks to convey. That message goes somewhat like this: India’s development assistance (mind you, not military presence or those ‘consulates’) “is causing new security and diplomatic problems” for US officials, because Washington “fears upsetting the delicate balance in its relations with Islamabad”. Pakistan is responding—apart from the case of providing some buses emblazoned with its flags—by killing Indian development workers. The unstated, but obvious, implication is that it is India that is causing problems for the United States in Afghanistan.
The Post‘s Emily Wax outdoes herself. Yes, this is the same person who asserted that the demands made on television by the ‘gunmen’ who carried out the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai reflected their real agenda; and the same person who was surprised to find that Indians do not follow Mahatma Gandhi’s dress code.
Strangely enough, other than those US officials and the Pakistani diplomat, the Afghan blokes interviewed only had nice things to say about India’s role. Like Sayed Arif, a young Afghan electrical engineer. “We very much want the Indians here,” Arif said, looking out at the power lines that India brought to his country. “That much in Afghanistan we are sure of.”
If US officials believe that what ordinary Afghans want in their own country is a problem, what it really means is that the US officials are the problem. Unless Ms Wax was attempting a satirical critique of US policy in Afghanistan, she has completely missed the plot.