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Aid to Pakistan: $2.6 billion spent, little ability to show it

Anti-US sentiments and foreign policy squabbles are thwarting good US public relations from reaching turbulent, poor border regions of Pakistan.

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A Pakistan visitor looks at photographs that show USAID projects in Pakistan displayed in Islamabad, Pakistan on Friday, April 13.

B.K. Bangash/AP

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Khalil Afridi recently survived a fatal attack by militants when a hand grenade was hurled at him. “They want me to quit development work, because of my association with Western donors,” he says. 

He has been a social worker in Khyber Agency, an area bordering Afghanistan through which supply routes run, for the past eight years and is currently working on water projects with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). But he says it’s too dangerous to tell this to locals. Instead, he says, “We tell people it’s the Pakistani government funding these projects.” 

Anti-US sentiments and foreign policy squabbles are thwarting good US public relations from reaching turbulent, poor border regions of Pakistan. They are also putting the lives of aid workers there at risk.

Like Mr. Afridi and many others, Shahzad Afridi (not related) has also worked for projects funded by USAID in Khyber Agency and is careful about making sure he does not mention USAID. “The militants think we are spies for the West, and they have threatened me to stop,” he explains.

USAID does not have any offices in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) but operates out of Peshawar, a settled area adjacent to the tribal areas. Officials here recognize the threats and say security is one of the biggest challenges to their aid work, so they've found a small way to work around it.

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