Friday, March 19, 2010

A couple of viewpoints on Pakistan

As a preview the upcoming US-Pakistan talks in Washington, we have a couple of viewpoints on the link between terrorism and poverty in Pakistan.

With many living in poverty in Pakistan some of those poor become easy recruits to the Al-Qeada and Taliban operations based there. Due to frustration and anger over their living conditions, they join groups who want to take violent action against those who they feel are keeping them poor. However, many military and state leaders say there is no link between poverty and terrorism.

The US gives 1.5 million dollars a year in humanitarian aid to Pakistan.

From CNN's Christine Amanpour show blog, we get two viewpoints of poverty and terrorism in Pakistan, first from Roshaneh Zafar, of the Kashf Foundation, and second from our favorite financier Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund. Writer Tom Evans summarised the show on Pakistan.

"I personally think that addressing poverty, which is Pakistan's biggest problem today, is going to combat in some ways the issue of security that we face," Roshaneh Zafar, founder and president of the Kashf Foundation told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

"We worked with 1 million poor families across Pakistan, and we've seen what happens, the change that happens." She said even small increases in family incomes can transform society, because parents can then put their children in private schools.

"[By] putting in micro-finance, which is the most sustainable way of providing aid to low-income households, we are beginning to see a silent revolution take place both in terms of children going to school, their ability to actually transcend their social backgrounds and become professionals," she said.

But Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund, which invests in development projects in Pakistan and elsewhere, cited the example of the huge progress she said is being made in housing construction in Pakistan as a result of initiatives by nonprofit organizations.

"I think that's where we're going to start seeing real scale. And then there's the scale of the human imagination," she said.

"Then there's the scale of frameworks that start with trust and credibility that both the United States and the Pakistan government have as an opportunity to show that they're there, that they care and they can make things happen."

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