Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 14:35 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 14:35 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Aid is intervention too


Sam Roggeveen


13 March 2009 15:16

Jaroslav Petrik takes issue with my post on Pakistan:

Your 'clarification' that Australia's help to Pakistan should only be 'political and financial' resonates a belief that soft power intervention is not really intervention. That's completely untrue — sending cash can sometimes be just as disastrous as deploying troops.

First, the choice of whom you decide to support is utterly political. Just as Karzai would be completely powerless without Western support, so would Zardari disproportionately benefit from even greater support. Second, donors' choice of whom to prop up are ofter very unwise. Take the example of unrelenting support to Abbas even after losing to Hamas in 2006 due to rampant corruption, governance inefficiency and failure to deliver. I wouldn't expect a different scenario in Pakistan if the president is known as Mr 10%.

I entirely agree, and I thank Jaroslav for pointing it out. It makes me wonder, is there a way to provide aid that strengthens the kind of institutions and practises we would like to see develop in Pakistan, but which doesn't either threaten or explicitly support any political faction? How about focusing on small-scale economic development, like micro-lending?