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Center for Global Development: Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan

Authors: Nancy Birdsall, Wren Elhai, and Molly Kinder
June 1, 2011


In a commission report from the Center for Global Development, regional experts argue that U.S. policymakers should embrace a development-centered agenda in Pakistan to complement the current focus on security.

In a new CGD report, U.S. and Pakistani development experts urge a substantial revamp of the U.S. approach to Pakistan, saying that U.S. efforts to build prosperity in the nuclear-armed nation with a fledgling democratic government, burgeoning youth population, and shadowy intelligence services are not yet on course.

Much of the report focuses on how to improve the U.S. aid program in Pakistan, but a revamped U.S. strategy would start with a greater reliance on trade—offering duty-free, quota-free access for all Pakistan exports to the U.S. market for at least five years—and increased incentives for investment, such as new forms of risk insurance and credit programs for Pakistan's small and medium enterprises.

“The United States is way off course in Pakistan,” says CGD president Nancy Birdsall, who convened the study group and is the lead author of the report. “It's heavily focused on security while neglecting low-cost, low-risk investments in jobs, growth, and the long haul of democracy building.”

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