Stop UK/US Aid to Pakistan

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Problem

Petition Calling on the UK and US to Immediately Suspend all Foreign Aid to Pakistan

The United Kingdom’s foreign aid programme to Pakistan is highly unaccountable, bereft of transparency and any accountability infrastructure.

According to fullfact.org, the five biggest recipients of UK foreign aid are Pakistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Nigeria with Pakistan being the number one recipient of these. In 2016, Pakistan received 463 million British pounds of foreign aid from the UK. Where is all this money going to?

The stated purposes of the programme are to improve human rights conditions in Pakistan, however, in fact conditions are getting worse.

The United States also commits quite an a portion of its annual expenditure to its foreign aid programme to Pakistan. According to the Center for Global Development (CGD), in total the United States committed $67 billion USD in aid to Pakistan between the period 1951 and 2011. Although CGD illuminates the fact that aid has ‘waxed and waned’ to Pakistan over the years, in 2009 the US renewed the vigour of its aid programme by committing to triple aid to Pakistan pursuant to the Enhanced Partnership for Pakistan Act (commonly referred to as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, or KLB).

The CGD has expressed grave concerns about the use of these funds:

“While… officials planned to spend foreign aid on assistance funds in Pakistan, actually disbursing the funds has proven a significant challenge. The limited capacity of local partners, legitimate concerns about corruption and security, a hesitation to deploy aid in the absence of necessary systemic reforms.”

Furthermore, CGD expresses concerns that “… it is difficult to know just how much money has been spent.” With such a lack of transparency and accountability why is the US continuing to fund such significant aid to Pakistan?

In light of the above-mentioned fears, it is imperative that we call on the US to cease all foreign aid to Pakistan pending investigation of how this money is being spent and the adoption of relevant accountability protocols which ensure that the money goes to its intended recipients (the people of Pakistan) and not into filling politician’s pockets.

This is very concerning especially given Pakistan’s significant history of governmental corruption (highlighted by the fact that ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was jailed for ten years for corruption). His name appeared in leaked documents known as the Panama Papers – which showed that he had squirrelled large sums of money into offshore tax haven accounts. Benazir and Zadari Bhutto were also implicated in numerous corruption scandals. The government of Pakistan has a long established history of corruption and misuse of funds.

Solution

We the undersigned petition the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) to immediately revoke their controversial foreign aid programme to Pakistan until proper accountability measures are adopted and evidence of improvement in their poor human rights record is shown.

Personal story

A Muslim NGO in Pakistan reported that in 2014 an estimated 700 Christian girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriages every year. This is a figure which BCPA regards are relatively conservative. The report further illuminates that 300 Hindu girls suffer the same abysmal fate annually and yet there is a culture of silence around these egregious wrongs.

Amnesty International (AI) cites Pakistan’s horrific human rights violations in a recent article.

Amnesty criticises Pakistan illuminating the rampant occurrences of extra-judicial killings, kidnapping, terror attacks, arbitrary detentions, deaths in custody, torture and forced disappearances. AI also criticises Pakistan’s horrific human rights record in relation to women and children, highlighting is rape and domestic violence culture.

Furthermore, the morally reprehensible response of the UK government to the current predicament of persecuted Christian woman Asia Bibi is further reason why aid to Pakistan should be immediately suspended, pending proper investigation. Asia Bibi is a persecuted Christian woman who was wrongfully convicted of blasphemy in 2010. The draconian blasphemy laws are often used as a weapon to marginalise, vilify and persecute minorities.

While the Supreme Court of Pakistan recently exonerated Bibi of all wrongdoing, acquitting her in a three-judge panel decision, her fate and the fate of her family still remains in the balance. It is worth noting that the Supreme Court, although exonerating her, upheld its archaic and barbaric blasphemy laws that serve only to repress human rights and free speech.

Following her acquittal, hundreds and thousands of rioters took the streets calling for the “blood” or Asia Bibi and any of her sympathisers. She is currently being kept in an undisclosed location while the UN and other Western nations continue to profoundly fail her. UK Prime Minister Theresa publicly denied asylum to Asia Bibi. Given that asylum was offered so expediently to Malala Yousafzai, one can only wonder, has the UK capitulated to extremists? The UK has failed to act as a conscionable and ethical global citizen in the Asia Bibi matter. It is also worth noting that the US has not offered asylum to Asia Bibi.

Moreover, the lack of transparency, accountability and openness in the foreign aid programme means that it needs to be suspended immediately until measures can be adopted to ensure that every dollar spent in Pakistan is accounted for and annual or biannual reports are drafted showing how this aid has helped facilitate improvements in human rights in Pakistan.

I am calling on all people to sign this petition requesting that foreign aid from the UK and the US to Pakistan be immediately suspended until a full investigation can be conducted into where the money is going and appropriate accountability measures can be adopted.

Learn more at www.britishpakistanichristians.org



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