Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

American Development Assistance to Pakistan Painful Dissillusioning: A Personal Essay

Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

American Development Assistance to Pakistan Painful Dissillusioning: A Personal Essay

Article excerpt


During the decades of the 1960s and 1970s I was an active participant in a great noble cause. Massive hunger moving into famine condition was put to rest. Millions upon millions of lives were preserved along with food security advanced for the next three or so decades.

In the initial decade of this humanitarian and development undertaking one out of every fifteen Pakistanis enjoyed full stomachs because of U.S. public Law 480 Food Aid. American generosity and technical know-how brought to the Indian subcontinent food security as never before existed. Pakistan particularly reaped great benefit from American intervention--(a) resolving first the issue of Indus river water between India and Pakistan (1960) followed by a wholesale renovation of the Indus irrigation complex, (b) massive importation of food grains mainly wheat and rice but some corn under Public Law 480, and (c) the introduction of the Green Revolution (early 1960s). An effective Family Planning Program was launched but after five or so years abandoned. The ancient scourge of famine was put aside, an accomplishment the British Indian Raj was never able to accomplish although tried.

What has been the consequence? Massive Pakistani ingratitude. I find this abrasive attitude a painful disillusioning experience where honorable intent to do good resulted in bad feelings. In this personal essay I seek the whys? I equally find troubling that the ghost of Malthus still hovers over Pakistani landscape. Its demographic data reads harsh with inter-generational exponential growth. Pakistanis in sizeable numbers are again becoming hungry. As a young US/AID foreign service officer, I projected forty years food security. Just possibly the "Four Horsemen" are returning. Whither goest Pakistan?


In necessasariis, unitas, In dubus, libertas; in omnibus, caritas "In things essential, unity; doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity"

Rupertus Meldenui (1)

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right ..."

Abraham Lincoln Second Inaugural Address, 4 March 1865 (2)

"... feed them also, and lift them up ...."

Psalms 28:9 King James Version

It was presumed not to happen that way. Nor was it ever conceived that it would take a different, if not a diabolical, form. In its traditional doctrine America was engaged in doing "good works." Humanity should not unduly suffer. At a great cost in resource and human life America had destroyed two tyrannical powers, Germany and Japan. In reconciliation the American people in charity and good faith gave as much money in restoring their former enemies as they spent in destroying them. In collective will they triumph over a terrible evil, quelling the proverbial four horsemen as found in biblical Revelations 6:1-8. Yet world peace and good will would soon take a new testing in the ushering-in of the Cold War. This global circumstance was acerbated by large regions plagued with hunger bordering on famine. Drought along with excessive population growth, an ancient dynamic, was tragically at work. America with its highly productive agriculture and superior organizational means was called to save from starvation masses of people's lives. The American nation answered this call for humanity which lasted for over two decades give or take from the late 1950s to the end of the 1970s.

During these years from late 1950s to mid 1980s I invested much of my professional life in serving this humanitarian response. I entered into it with innocent optimism along with many other kindred Americans. I began as an idealistic Cold Warrior but soon became a hardened realist. Of the two countries where I spent the majority of my time, first Indonesia and then Pakistan, I studied diligently their individual histories. In recent time my once joyful illusions have become painful disillusionings, much more so for Pakistan than Indonesia. …

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