Pakistan Is Having a Hard Time Trusting International Aid

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In news that's probably going to make you want to shake your head and sigh, it seems Pakistani government officials, still sore from the Osama bin Laden raid, have become so paranoid about spies that they're cracking down on international aid--to the detriment of their people. You see, while the U.S. and other countries saw the raid as an act of bravery and triumph, Pakistan saw it as a breach of sovereignty, and as The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg has pointed out, officials parlayed that into a witch hunt, condemning officials who they believed compromised their sovereignty by being in cahoots with Western intelligence and military agencies.  And because of one Pakistani doctor, Shakhil Afridi, who worked with the C.I.A. to help find bin Laden, that witch hunt has now spread to International aid agencies. The New York Times' Declan Walsh reports on the C.I.A.'s and Affridi's scheme: 

Dr. Afridi’s mission in Abbottabad, however, was different: he was asked to set up a hepatitis B vaccination scheme that would enable him to take blood samples from the inhabitants of Bin Laden’s sprawling, three-story house, providing DNA evidence the C.I.A. could use to prove he was there. But Dr. Afridi was not told the identity of his target, the official said.

In between vaccination rounds, Pakistani intelligence said, Mr. Afridi would smuggle himself into the American Embassy in Islamabad in the back of a vehicle to meet a C.I.A. handler calling himself Peter.

Walsh reports that this paranoia has spread so far, officials have essentially strangled the effectiveness and the money from international aid groups trying to do good in the country. The group hardest hit, apparently, is Save the Children which spent $105 million last year in Pakistan who have seen their aid supplies and visas blocked--depriving some 35,000 children medical care. Walsh mentions a few instances of aid workers from other Western countries being accused and arrested for being spies. And, yes we can see why Pakistani officials might have trust issues, but if those spies are doing things like helping to take down Osama bin Laden ... let's just say we can think of worse things spies could be doing.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.