The politics of bilateral aid: An inquiry into selectivity and effectiveness of the United States foreign aid to Pakistan

Rahim, Tariq
This thesis aims to analyze two aspects of the United States (US) foreign aid given to Pakistan bilaterally; namely, selectivity and effectiveness. In relation to the first aspect, it attempts to explore the motives and objectives of the US which led its policymakers to choose Pakistan as a recipient country. For the sake of a comprehensive analysis, the study examines the US bilateral aid both historically and contemporarily and thus it focuses on the allocation of aid to Pakistan during the Cold War period and in the postCold War era. The two periods are chosen to understand the primary determinants as well as the change in patterns of US aid flows to Pakistan. With regard to the second aspect, the study evaluates the role of US bilateral aid in socio-economic progress of Pakistan. This aspect is significant for examining the effectiveness of US aid as claimed by the policymakers in the US and Pakistan. The role of US aid is analyzed for the three major socio-economic indicators, namely, health, education and poverty reduction. The major focus is to identify whether the US aid contributed to improvement of the three sectors. In the study, both the donor’s and the recipient’s perspectives are taken into consideration, and thus the theoretical framework developed is eclectic i.e. it explains US-Pakistan aid relationship in motivations-cum-impacts manner. The realist theory of foreign aid is employed to examine motives of the US for providing aid to Pakistan and public choice theory is applied to evaluate the impacts of the US aid on Pakistan within the context of human development. In addition, a general literature on motives and effectiveness of bilateral aid is reviewed which serves as point of departure for the case study. This study finds that the allocation of aid from the US to Pakistan both during and in the post-Cold War period was primarily motivated by the former’s politico-strategic and security interests. The study does not find claims made by the policymakers in the US and Pakistan regarding aid-effectiveness credible. The study argues that the US bilateral aid remained ineffective and supposedly played a negative role in terms of aggravating the state of corruption, income inequalities and patronage activities in Pakistan. However, as stated in some earlier works, this should not come as a surprise, because the objectives were never really development but rather strategic and security interests of the donor.


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Citation Formats
T. Rahim, “The politics of bilateral aid: An inquiry into selectivity and effectiveness of the United States foreign aid to Pakistan,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2017.