Stories about USAID

Pakistan’s education crisis: enrolled in schools, unable to learn

It is no secret that Pakistan’s education sector is in dire straits. The Wilson Center report, titled ‘Why Can’t Pakistani Children Read? The Inside Story of Education Reform Efforts Gone Wrong,’ talks about Pakistan’s ‘education emergency’. It talks at length about the misdiagnosed education crisis of Pakistan which has resulted from decades of well-meaning but majorly-flawed internal and international reforms. Maina Gathinjaga WaGîokõ, a fellow educationist from Kenya, once said, “I am not worried about the 850,000 who are out of school. I am more worried about the 12 million who are in school.” The current level of enrollment in kindergarten at ...

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The problem with Imran Khan’s CNN interview is his hypocrisy that is too palpable to ignore

In an era of hyper-nationalism bordering on fascist tendencies, a strongly crafted statement works wonders for your public image.  This is exactly what we witnessed recently. America’s recent tragedy, otherwise also known as President Donald Trump, was found to be ruffling some spiteful feathers yet again. But Trump said what all American leaders have already said about Pakistan (we’ve been compared to cancer and called an international migraine, for starters). He also threatened Pakistan with the stoppage of American aid if we don’t “do more”. Been there, heard that. In came Imran Khan to rescue Pakistan from this shared sense of shame. In ...

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What better way of diverting attention from Donald Trump than by blaming Pakistan for all the ills of the world?

The world awoke earlier this week to another one of Donald Trump’s controversial insinuations. I call this an insinuation because the American president didn’t make any official statement himself, but had senior members of his staff hint at the possibility of his administration “hardening the line” against Pakistan. The revelation made to Reuters comes across as nothing new. Pick up any article printed in any paper from any country about the US-Pakistan relationship and you will find the exact same content, phrases, threats and arguments. It usually revolves around the US lamenting that Pakistan is not doing enough and is in cahoots with militant groups that are bent upon hampering the ...

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If Michelle Obama can do it, why not Reham Khan?

The role of the First Lady in the US has continued to remain very prominent, active, and vocal over the years. It won’t be wrong to say that any national leader’s wife’s involvement with key social and cultural platforms helps to create positive vibes regarding his sincere commitment to the people who elected him. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama further strengthened her already strong ties with the community at large by supporting the ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative that champions for the global education of girls. Assuming a leading position in the educational campaign developed by the USAID, US Agency for International Development, Mrs Obama hopes to ...

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How long will the US assist Pakistan?

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki went off the cuff last week to announce that Pakistan has not received any development assistance from the United States since 2013. That was news – Pakistani papers Express Tribune and Dawn headlined it. But it was wrong. Congress released funding to Pakistan in September 2014.  Under the “Kerry-Lugar-Berman (KLB)” bill, Congress authorised $1.5 billion in development assistance for Pakistan for five years, from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2015. But because USAID must get Congressional blessing of its program plans before it gets the money, money rarely comes through in the year it is budgeted for. So Pakistan received funds ...

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Welcome to Hypocristan

“Feudalism is the root of all evil in our country, baita,” Ms Naheed, who runs a renowned non-government organisation (NGO), explains to Saleem, a friend of her son. “The worsening moral, social, economic and political crisis Pakistan is going through is due to the elitist mentality of the powerful feudal lords. They deny children the right to education and treat them like slaves.” Saleem jots down the key points of the discussion. He has to submit an article on ‘Feudalism in Pakistan’ for the campus magazine next week. As soon as she finishes her sentence, they hear the sound of breaking glass. Ms Naheed gets ...

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Four Pakistani conspiracy theories that are less fictitious than you’d think

Last year, Pakistani journalist Nadeem F Paracha published an article titled Malala: The real story (with evidence) on the website of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. The article argued that schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot not by the Pakistani Taliban but by the CIA – and with blanks. The shooting had been completely staged. The triggerman? Robert De Niro “posing as an Uzbek homeopath”. Paracha was clearly satirising Pakistani conspiracy theories but some of his countrymen took him quite literally. One obscure newspaper, The Lahore Times, even published an article which was later removed from its website, reporting Paracha’s article as fact. Dawn eventually posted a disclaimer noting that the article was fictitious. One ...

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Does the Pakistani media love to hate the US?

Last week our media showed a shocking side of our ‘friend country’, claiming that the US authorities were going to shift a comatose patient, Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa, from a US hospital to Pakistan without ensuring that his condition was stable enough. To me this seems like yet another case of ‘yellow journalism’ because the fact of the matter is that Shahzaib Bajwa, who had been spending a semester in an exchange program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, has been comatose in a Minnesota hospital since his accident last November. According to Shahzaib’s elder brother, the Essentia Health-St Mary’s Medical Centre has already provided ...

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Educational emergency: Losing ‘Sim Sim Hamara’

Much to our disappointment, just a few weeks ago Pakistan lost the Urdu version of Sesame Street, commonly referred to as “Sim Sim Hamara”. Sadly, Sim Sim is no longer hamara. The USAID had invested over $65 million in “Sesame Street” undertakings in more than one dozen countries for over a decade. In Pakistan alone, the investment was around $20 million and was supposed to span over four years. Out of this $6.7 million has already been spent. It is a shame that the US has reason to believe that funds were mishandled much to the embarrassment of every Pakistani who has ...

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An open letter to Ali Azmat

Dear Ali, I hope this letter finds you in great health and wealth. I am writing to you today to tell you that you have let your fans down – perhaps not all but quite a few of them. I have been a fan of your vocal prowess ever since I heard “Dosti” for the first time in 1988. You used to be part of The Jupiters then. Your voice and the song captivated me; I was instantly hooked. Then you joined Junoon, and from then on I and many fans like me swooned to the wonderful music you created. Pakistanis finally had ...

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