Painted buses and $300m of Pakistan’s ‘own money’

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.

7 thoughts on “Painted buses and $300m of Pakistan’s ‘own money’”

  1. Unless Ms Wax was attempting a satirical critique of US policy in Afghanistan, she has completely missed the plot.
    Nitin, these Western journalists are the masters of moral relativity and dumb moral equivalence – they have already had a lot of practice on the issue of moral-equivalence with the Israel-Palestine saga.

    At first, India’s military presence was what was supposed to hurt US interests – now its mere non military and developmental projects alone are enough to hurt American interests it seems !!

    It may be time for American interests to face even more damage in the AfPak region that what has already happened – after all, these days American interests dont seem to be any different from Pakistani interests – thanks to Barack Obama, Bob Gates, Petreaus and co

  2. Too many fanboys and fangirls in the establishment for Pak these days. I am sure there must be some money being paid also for some of these “experts”. Holebrooke for instance bats too much for Pakis (is it true he has a Paki wife?). And all this criticism about India’s development efforts in Afg from a “superpower”, that always shouts about freedom, democracy and human rights. Ach thoo!

    Nice article by MKB in Asia Times. No wonder Karzai is upset with some of these morons main one being Holebrook.

    http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LD02Df02.html

  3. India is contributing to the uplift of ordinary Afghan. On the contrary ISI is providing explosives to terrorists to blow up bridges, schools & dams. I was very sadened to hear about Bola Ram, the engineer who build the Power station but was blown up by Let/ISI terrorits. Afghans know better that US/NATO shall left us alone as they are unable & unwilling to defeat Taliban & ISI/Lets terrorits. Nor they can rebuild Afghanistan. We need sincere people like Bola Ram to create a Power station with a fraction of cost of what western project manager would achieve. Indian, be assured that Afghans are very greatful and they have long memories & never forget their friends & enemies. Even if takes our next genration, the revenge of death of Bola Ram in best possoble way is our promise, the promise of Afghans.

  4. Bizarre moral equivalence throughout the article.

    From the article,
    ‘To blunt India’s eager courtship of Afghanistan, Pakistan is pouring $300 million of its own money and resources into a nation it.’
    Pakistan’s $300million = India $1.3bln.

    ‘Afghanistan is a bridge to Central Asia’s vast gas and oil reserves, which are coveted by India and Pakistan’
    No it is not. Not for India.

    “Let’s be honest with one another: There are real suspicions in both India and Pakistan about what the other is doing in Afghanistan,” -Robert M Gates

    If anything, that statement reeks of dishonesty. It seeks to equate Pakistans misdeeds with India’s positive approach.

    “Our longest border is with Afghanistan. We have deep cultural and economic and people-to-people ties,”-M.A Khan, deputy chief of mission in the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul

    As if Pakistan has a unique culture of it’s own. Again, not the author’s fault, but the quotes chosen are bizarre.

    “India may be very vocal about their aid projects here, but we don’t need to publicize our position. Pakistan’s role speaks for itself.“-M.A. Khan

    Hehe. Self parody.

    ‘The competition between the two nations can seem silly at times: When India donated a fleet of buses in the western city of Herat, Pakistan began donating buses decorated with painted Pakistani flags.’

    One is silly. The other isn’t. It should have been easy to point out the silliness here.

    ‘Sitting in a sun-streamed classroom, Sayed Arif, 25, and other young engineers were learning how to run the power plant.’
    ‘ “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.” ‘

    The Afghans opinion is the only thing that matters. Isn’t it obvious that they be allowed to decide who they want in their country?

  5. Would be interesting if we could do a media lynching of people like Ms Wax using Facebook and Twitter. Checks and balances …

  6. Karzai is feeling the heat of a full court press – he has lashed out against the West regarding charges of corruption

    It also looks like Karzai is facing a threat from Afghan lawmakers as well – this guy is known to be a survivor – he is facing his toughest challenge yet.

    If the Obama Admn manages to bring Karzai down, it would be really interesting to see who emerges as the President next.

  7. “If the Obama Admn manages to bring Karzai down, it would be really interesting to see who emerges as the President next.”

    Gulbuddin Hekmatyar? After all he is the ISI point man.

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